The £2.5bn in rent debt hanging around the neck of the hospitality industry is a threat to the future of thousands of businesses and over 330,000 sector jobs, new analysis by UKHospitality has revealed.
A new survey of UKHospitality members, found that resolving the rent debt issue is critical to ensuring the future health of a sector that pre-pandemic accounted for 10% of UK employment.
As part of its submission to the Government’s call for evidence, UKHospitality highlighted that more than half of operators surveyed said they have not had a rent reduction from their landlord, despite prolonged periods of closure and over a year of punitive trading restrictions. Other key findings include:
- 52% have not been given any extension to pay rent
- 73% are either unable or don’t know how they can pay their rent arrears
- 40% have not been able to reach a deal with their landlord over rent concessions.
If the current protections that are in place are removed this summer, the analysis estimated that a sixth of the remaining hospitality workforce, equivalent to 332,000 jobs, could be lost. This would be in addition to the hundreds of thousands of jobs already lost during the course of the pandemic.
Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality CEO said:
“Our survey shows that while a proportion of operators have been able to strike a deal with their landlords on payment of rent debt, for many there have been no concessions and little engagement on the issue. The issue of rent debt must be resolved in a way that shares the burden as businesses simply cannot be expected to pay their rent arrears in full.
“This is why the Government must take affirmative action to help hospitality rebuild and play its part in the economic recovery. There has to be a sharing of the pain caused by lockdowns and trading restrictions. Government must extend and expand protections until the end of the year, and force the writing off of a fair amount of Covid rent debt. The removal of protections would be disastrous and result in a huge increase in enforcement activity – meaning business failures and hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.”