Prior to Rishi Sunak’s
mini-Budget, the British Property Federation (BPF), Revo, the British Retail
Consortium (BRC) and UKHospitality called on the government to introduce a
Furloughed Space Grant Scheme, based on a similar scheme in Denmark.
initial proposal was revised after the government indicated the scheme was too
expensive, with the cost more equally shared between government, tenant and
landlord. But the chancellor opted to back VAT cuts and Eat Out to Help Out in
an attempt to support the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors instead.
leaders said the news had come as a major blow. “We were disappointed that the
chancellor didn’t take the opportunity to say something tangible to support
retail and hospitality, but it’s still under consideration and still under
discussion,” said BPF chief executive Melanie Leech. “My interpretation is that
they want to see more data come through from June quarter day. But I think the
evidence is clear that rental collection is still depressed.”
property policy adviser Dominic Curran said cost might still be a sticking
point for the government. “It’s not in the bin, but it’s not on the table
either. The government thinks it’s spent enough money,” he said. “I hope it
would recognise the economic benefits of spending a relatively small amount to
keep otherwise viable companies trading, paying their taxes and employing tens
of thousands of people.”
chief executive Vivienne King underlined the need for urgent action to “prevent the distress escalating
through the payment chain beyond operators and property owners to lenders,
pensions funds and the savers that rely on property income”.
added: “It was a disappointment that there was no reflection of this in the
mini-Budget, but we continue to press for it. The chancellor pledged to
protect, support and create jobs. The reality is hundreds of thousands of jobs
remain in jeopardy if there is not direct support on rents.”
renewed calls for action come as Property Week reveals that almost 70% of the industry does not
think the new commercial code of practice is fit for purpose.