A new survey of UKH members found that resolving the rent debt issue is “critical” to ensuring the future health of a sector that prior to the pandemic accounted for 10% of UK employment.
As part of its submission to the government’s call for evidence, the association 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 trading restrictions.
Other key findings include 52% of respondents suggesting they have not been given any extension to pay rent, whilst 73% revealed they are either “unable or don’t know how” they can pay their rent arrears.
UKH analysts have estimated that if the current protections that are in place are removed this summer, a sixth of the remaining hospitality workforce, equivalent to 332,000 jobs, could be lost.
Kate Nicholls, CEO, UKHospitality, 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.
“There has to be a sharing of the pain caused by lockdowns and trading restrictions. The 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.”