The government is said to be planning an extension on coronavirus measures which prevent restaurateurs and retailers from being evicted from their premises by landlords until the end of the year.
Officials are said to be examining how to prolong the existing ban on evictions of commercial property tenants by landlords from its current expiry date of September 30th.
The proposed extension to the scheme comes as the government faces increasing pressure to support more companies struggling to get through the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to The Financial Times, Labour leader Keir Starmer will call for the government’s job retention scheme to be replaced by a more flexible system to avoid mass unemployment, while the British Chambers of Commerce has urged ministers to produce a new package of business support to avoid more company failures.
Some hospitality and retail leaders have warned that many fixed site businesses could be at risk of collapse at the end of September when the next quarter’s rent bill is due and the current eviction ban comes to an end. The government initially introduced the ban in April but it was extended in the summer to September 30th.
Restaurant groups including Burger King and Itsu wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson over the weekend asking for a targeted extension of the evictions ban, saying there was “a critical risk that many restaurants will face eviction proceedings from 1st October”. Retailers are also demanding landlords provide them with rent reductions due to heavily reduced shopper numbers since the national lockdown was lifted.
The British Chambers of Commerce has written to Mr Johnson calling for a new package of business support to avoid “significant levels” of business failures, long-term economic scarring and high levels of people being made unemployed.
The letter from group president Ruby McGregor-Smith said the government needed to provide support for businesses suffering local restrictions alongside a comprehensive stimulus package, including a reduction in national insurance costs. Whilst the government has introduced measures such as deferrals on mortgage payments, it has so far decided to go against calls to extend the furlough scheme and state-backed company loans beyond the autumn.