// BRC calls for extension for retailer’s rent relief, “in the absence of an alternative solution”
// BPF says a blanket moratorium will encourage “well-capitalised businesses” to hold back on rent payments
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the British Property Federation (BPF) were originally united in calling on the government for an extension on retailers’ rent relief.
Both lobbying groups have urged the government to pay up to 50 per cent of commercial rents to help keep the high street afloat in the midst of the coronavirus restrictions.
The proposal was designed to help pay an estimated £3 billion of rent owed to landlords in the six months to September.
However, according to the Times, the BRC has since asked for retailers to be granted an extension beyond the end of September.
“In the absence of an alternative solution, the government should extend the moratorium. Without action, the job losses we have seen across the industry over the last month will be the tip of the iceberg, said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.
In response, the BPF said its members were prepared to support vulnerable tenants, but a blanket moratorium encouraged tenants who can afford to pay to withhold rent at the expense of property owners.
“The BRC is calling for an extension of measures that are benefitting large well-capitalised businesses, many of whom grew their online businesses significantly during lockdown, at the expense of the millions of people whose savings and pensions are invested in commercial property,” said BPF chief executive Melanie Leech.
Speaking in light of the comments, a government spokeswoman told the Times:
“This government recognises the huge challenges faced by commercial tenants and landlords and we’re working closely with them to ensure they are supported. We’ve taken unprecedented action to protect jobs and livelihoods, with around £160 billion of support, including rates relief and grants.”
Over the weekend Labour warned of “shuttered streets” as its research suggested 115,000 business in distress could get help from a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund.
Labour called for local authorities to use coronavirus-related grants they underspend in their area, to spend on supporting local economies, rather than returning funds to the UK Government.
“With the UK now in recession, ministers must do all they can to stave off disaster on the high street,” shadow minister for business Lucy Powell said.