United We Stand

Rent-free period for hospitality proposal to be submitted to Government

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Rent-free period for hospitality proposal to be submitted to Government

Related tags UnitedWeStand Coronavirus

London Union’s Jonathan Downey is to submit a formal proposal to the Treasury next week for his #NationalTimeOut campaign.

The proposal, which will be signed by CEOs and other senior figures from across the hospitality industry, will lay out his plans for a nine-month rent-free period for hospitality, leisure and retail businesses to provide them with some respite during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Downey is calling for a national rent-free period to push back the next nine months of rent (from April-December), so that nobody pays anything until the first quarter of next year, when he says rental payments will resume as normal.

To make up for this rent-free period, each corresponding lease would be extended by nine months so that those payments aren’t lost, just postponed, he says.

This will also apply to landlords on their loan repayments, where the debt is secured on premises benefiting from this rent postponement, as part of the proposal.

“So many in our sector are going to need something extraordinary to get through the next few months and to make it worthwhile to carry on afterwards,” he says.

“I’ve been talking to anyone and everyone, to try and understand all the relevant issues and viewpoints, and especially to landlords. Most landlords get this although some never will.”

“I don’t know if we’ll get this, but it won’t cost Government anything and nobody has come up with a better plan yet to help more businesses.”

Downey says he will also be seeking support from the Music Venues Trust, the NTIA, UK Active and any other industry body whose members would benefit from the #NationalTimeOut campaign.

“We have to find a way to make this work for everyone and, although this is early stages, it feels like this could be an answer.”

The proposal comes at a time when some European countries are starting to consider lifting lockdown restrictions​. However, there are fears from the industry that any sort of staged reopening in the UK, which could mean social distancing measures remain in place once businesses have reopened, could be disastrous.

“For many of us, this will be worst of all worlds as Government financial support is likely to fall away or reduce drastically, and yet those that can open will be expected to get by on significantly reduced revenue levels,” says Downey.

“We’ll go from not-making/loss-making to massively loss-making.”

“Hospitality has to be treated as a special case because we were hit first, and hardest and physical distancing measures and fear of the virus will continue to affect our businesses well into 2021 and possibly beyond.”

“It’s why we need a #NationalTimeOut.”


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