// Landlords in talks to “furlough” shops as rents go unpaid
// The scheme is based on a similar plan introduced successfully in Denmark
// UK Government invited industry leaders last week to help prepare a “furloughed space grant scheme” proposal
Landlords are reportedly in talks with the government to see if unpaid retail rent bills due to the coronavirus pandemic could be placed on a furlough scheme of sorts.
According to The Telegraph, the UK Government is considering a “furloughed space grant scheme” proposal, with officials inviting industry leaders last week to help prepare a rescue plan.
The scheme could see taxpayers subsidise the rent bills for “furloughed” shops and restaurants in the pandemic recession as tensions grow between landlords and troubled retailers.
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Swathes of retailers have been unable, or refused, to pay their rent due at the end of the first quarter as a result of the lockdown and plunging revenue, which in turn places landlords at risk losing billions at the next key payment date in June.
Landlords have also yet to receive any specific support from the government, especially since it placed a ban on landlords issuing statutory demands to force retail tenants to cough up the rent owed.
The proposed space furlough scheme reportedly under discussion is modelled on a similar plan introduced successfully in Denmark.
It would see tenants contribute some rent and landlords agree to a reduction in payments, while the Treasury uses taxpayer funds to plug the gap.
Sources speaking to The Telegraph said the proposal could focus on the hardest hit sectors, such as retail and leisure, and be a “sliding scale” of support.
“The government is considering it seriously,” British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech told The Telegraph.
“The conversation is about how you best fill that gap rather than not recognising that there is a gap.”