Gov must ‘find a solution’ to £2bn rent debt, says UKH chief

Kate Nicholls, head of UKHospitality, has called on the government to work alongside the sector, landlords and shareholders to find a solution to the £2bn plus in rent debt that “hangs around the neck” of the industry.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Committee hearing on Monday (7 June), Nicholls highlighted the “need for further government support for the sector”, which remains unable to trade normally under current restrictions.

Addressing the committee, Nicholls said that current government support is “not sufficient” to cover the “sustained hit on revenues” that businesses in the sector have witnessed following months of lockdown.

According to the chief, average hospitality monthly costs are between £10,000 and £20,000, while the “average government support is £3,000 per month”.

It comes as a recent UKH survey showed that one in five sector businesses said that rent debt will lead to insolvencies, and that rent debt “will cast a long shadow over the sector, impacting its ability to rebound quickly”.

Nicholls called for an extension of the eviction moratorium and for landlords to equally “share the pain” with businesses in the sector by writing off 50% of rent debt for closure periods.

She said: “After reopening in full, the industry must be given breathing space to gauge customer demand. To achieve this, the government needs to work alongside the sector, landlords and shareholders to find a solution to the £2bn plus in rent debt that hangs around the neck of the industry.”

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