Calls for further business rates relief as lockdown extension looks inevitable

The government is facing calls to extend economic support including business rates relief if the 21 June ‘unlocking’ date is delayed, as expected, today.

Labour’s Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband has warned hospitality will be one of the ‘worst affected’ industries with the sector facing a ‘perfect summer storm’ of issues. The aviation sector has also been severely impacted – both airports and airlines – over the past 18 months with no relief in sight.

As from 30 June the ban on commercial rent evictions is due to end and from 1 July employers must start paying 10% furlough costs along with a third of their business rates.

One in four restaurants, pubs, bars and licensed premises are still closed despite the return of indoor service, according to recent survey, with a further lockdown extension signalling further industry casualties.

PM Boris Johnson is to announce today whether a planned relaxing of all restrictions on social distancing will go ahead – with most political pundits seeing a 4-week delay as inevitable.

Ahead of the announcement, Ed Miliband said: “Businesses have operated under historic uncertainty during this crisis, worsened by details of economic support playing catch up with public health announcements.

“Businesses should not have to worry for even one day that economic support will be pulled away whilst restrictions remain in place.”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls also called on the government to postpone business rates payments until at least October and extend the rent moratorium. She added that if any restrictions remain in place beyond 21 June ministers should prioritise those which do the “least damage to business” alongside announcing a support package.

“Businesses need a swift, publicly stated commitment that such support will be in place in the event of any delays, giving them much-needed reassurance after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading,” said Nicholls.

“Hospitality is desperate to get back to what it does best and can play a key role in the economic recovery of the UK – but only if it is given the proper support.”