Jonathan Downey, founder of Hospitality Union and chief executive of London Union, has confirmed he will be submitting a formal proposal to the Treasury next week calling for a nine-month rent-free period for hospitality businesses forced to close since the lockdown.
Speaking to The Caterer on Friday, Downey said that it had taken him "five days and 33 years of experience to put the proposal together", having first aired the suggestion on 28 March. He added that the lease forfeiture moratorium went from "idea to law in 13 days, so we're slacking a bit on this one".
While Downey was unable to predict the Treasury's response, he confirmed that the proposal would be at zero cost to the government. He said that hospitality was a "special case", having been "hit first and hardest", and because physical distancing measures coupled with a fear of the virus will continue to affect hospitality businesses well into 2021 and possibly beyond.
The proposal will make the case that pressing pause on rent from April to December 2020, thereby effectively extending leases by nine months, is vital for the survival of thousands of hospitality businesses across the country.
Downey believes the #NationalTimeOut proposal will also be welcomed by landlords who similarly would benefit from a nine-month pause on loan repayments against premises for which they are temporarily not receiving rent for, and instead pushing the onus back onto the banks to cover debts. He said would also be seeking support from the Music Venues Trust, the NTIA, UK Active and other industry bodies whose members would benefit from the initiative.
Read the full interview with Jonathan Downey here.