UK Hospitality backs #NationalTimeOut

18th May, 2020 by Melita Kiely

Trade body UK Hospitality has voiced its support for a #NationalTimeOut in a letter to the government urging an intervention on commercial rent payments to prevent widescale job losses and business failures in the coming months.


The UK bar industry is urging the government to freeze commercial rent payments to help save businesses and millions of jobs

UK Hospitality wrote to business secretary Alok Sharma MP to highlight that despite a moratorium on enforcement action, hospitality businesses are still being aggressively pursued by some landlords.

It comes despite a UK-wide lockdown that forced all on-trade establishments to close after 20 March. Despite some restrictions being lifted in England a week ago, bars and restaurants are still not permitted to open leaving them with “virtually no income”.

UK Hospitality said some venues were being targeted with winding-up petitions, having deposit funds taken and being served with County Court Judgements.

The trade body warned that where landlords have been offered rent deferrals, this will lead to the mounting of debt, which businesses will struggle to pay back due to trading below normal levels for the foreseeable.

The UK government has encouraged landlords and tenants to work together to find solutions, but UK Hospitality said the commercial market was “effectively broken”.

The on-trade has been campaigning for a nine-month #NationalTimeOut to save more than two million jobs and thousands of businesses – which would also benefit landlords. The campaign is being led by Hospitality Union and has received widespread support across the sector.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “In June, sector businesses are due to pay nearly £800 million [US$970.7m] in rent, having been forcibly closed and generated no income for over three months. We appreciate that landlords have their own financial pressures and the majority of landlords have been happy to work with tenants to find solutions, but a damaging minority continue to put pressure on beleaguered hospitality businesses at the worst time.

“Having discussed this issue with a vast number of industry bodies, it’s clear we need a National Time Out on rent as the vast majority of hospitality and leisure businesses will simply not be able to pay for the rest of the year.

“The government must step in quickly to help hospitality businesses, landlords and investors find a mutually beneficial solution. We are ready and eager to sit down with all stakeholders to thrash out an equitable solution, with the government acting as [an] honest broker.

“If the commercial rental market collapses, it will be to the long-term detriment of the whole economy and lead to millions of hospitality workers losing their jobs and swathes of businesses permanently closing their doors.”

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