The trade body representing the retail property industry has warned that rent arrears could pass £2bn after today’s quarter day.

Revo said its members are braced for a “hugely damaging quarter” amid expectations that less than half of rent due will be paid. Across the first and second quarters of the year, a total of £1.5bn in rent has been unpaid.

Vivienne King, Revo’s chief executive, said the government’s decision to extend a moratorium banning commercial evictions until the end of the year “has simply fuelled the confidence of the well-heeled to continue exploitation of a system intended to protect businesses in genuine distress”.

“There is little justice in singling out property owners as the fall guys to indiscriminately compensate large and valuable operators for their cashflow,” King said. “But having done so, the repercussions will reverberate through the economy for years to come as the capital for regeneration dries up, investors look to safer havens elsewhere and anyone who has put their savings into retail property faces huge losses.”

She added: “The perfect storm of the moratoria, abuse of CVAs and an archaic business rates system are making UK town and city centres uninvestable. The current policy is short-termist; while it may protect some jobs temporarily it will severely undermine job creation in the longer term in deterring investment and innovation on the high street.”