Growing rent debt is the "single biggest issue" facing hospitality and will "cripple" the sector without further support, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has warned.
Speaking during a webinar run by Montgomery Group yesterday, Nicholls said the trade body is lobbying for further government help on the issue before January.
Operators are currently protected from eviction from commercial premises until the end of 2020 after the government extended its moratorium on landlords taking action over unpaid rent.
But there are concerns about the future, with some restaurateurs warning they could emerge from the crisis owing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
When questioned on the support available to tackle rent arrears, Nicholls said: "There isn't any outlined at the moment but we're working hard with government to see if we can get that addressed.
"It is the single biggest issue which faces [hospitality] and it will cripple us going forwards unless we get some action. We're working very hard to try and resolve that one."
She added: "[We are] looking at the rent moratorium and rent interventions to help with accrued rent debt liabilities which will otherwise cripple the sector in January."
Restaurateurs have told The Caterer they would like to see the introduction of a furlough-style scheme to cover rents, to assist both businesses and landlords.
Nicholls said UKHospitality was focusing on ‘building for the future', including lobbying for an extension to the end of the business rates holiday from March 2021 to March 2022 and extending the VAT cut for the whole of next year.
"That's to build back better for the future and to make sure that we can play our part in the recovery," she said.
Over the next 30 days the trade body is also seeking amendments to the tier system, including the rules on household mixing and the 10pm curfew.
"We're working hard to promote hospitality as a safe place to socialise in the run up to Christmas," said Nicholls.