The government has extended a ban on evicting businesses from their premises for nine months after a backlash against the continuation of Covid restrictions.
A ban on commercial evictions was set to end on 30 June but Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury announced on Wednesday that it is to be extended to 25 March 2022.
Existing debts accumulated during the crisis will be “ringfenced” in order to protect struggling tenants. A new arbitration mechanism will be introduced introduced to help tenants and landlords resolve disputes over those bad debts.
Retail and hospitality industry groups warned last week that the two sectors had built up £5bn in rent arrears while many businesses are still operating well below pre-pandemic levels.
Mr Barclay told the House of Commons the government had called for evidence on further actions to resolve companies’ debts “in recognition of the importance of jobs in the many affected businesses at the heart of local communities”
The government plans to introduce legislation to support “orderly resolution” of debts that have resulted from Covid-19 business closures.
“We will introduce legislation in this parliamentary session to establish a backstop so that where commercial negotiations between tenants and landlords are not successful, tenants and landlords go into binding arbitration,” he said.
“Until that legislation is on the statute book existing measures will remain in place, including extending the current moratorium to protect commercial tenants from eviction to 25 March 2022.”
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement on changes to the easing of lockdown measures, more than 1,100 nightclubs across the country will remain closed until at least 19 July, a month beyond a previously planned 21 June re-opening.