Trade bodies have issued a plea for government intervention in the rent crisis, calling for the issuing of grants to cover 50% of unpaid rents across retail, leisure and hospitality for six months.
UKHospitality, the British Property Federation, British Retail Consortium, Revo and ukactive have asked for the introduction of a 'property bounceback grant', warning that if nothing is done, there will be "hundreds of thousands of job losses and long-lasting damage to high streets across the UK".
Analysis commissioned by the five trade bodies found that it would cost £1.75b to cover unpaid rents across the sectors for six months. However, they have said the total return to the Treasury in terms of tax revenue from economic activity would be almost £7b, and 375,000 jobs would be saved – a return on investment of almost 400%.
If rent support were extended to cover businesses that had already reached rent payment agreements, the cost would rise to £4.7b, with a total return of more than £11b to the UK economy, preventing the loss of more than 630,000 jobs.
The proposal is for grants to be issued on the condition that an agreement between the landlord and tenant is in place to account for the remaining 50% of rent and service charges.
In a joint statement the trade bodies said: "Many landlords and tenants are working collaboratively to agree new payment plans, but there remains a significant proportion of rent unpaid. Many businesses will never be able to pay this debt and many landlords cannot afford to sustain losses of this scale. Government must step in and provide rent support, otherwise we will see more businesses closed, more jobs gone and more high streets devastated.
"Without urgent action on rents, many otherwise viable businesses are, through no fault of their own, at imminent risk of failure. Where both landlord and tenant are able to cover at least 50% of the rent owed, and are able to demonstrate they are working together as economic partners, government should have the confidence to invest in these businesses' futures and prevent the needless loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs."