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ukactive has today (16 June) welcomed the direction of travel from the Government on rent, with the announcement of an extension on the moratorium of eviction for commercial rent arrears in England, and a commitment to introduce legislation for binding arbitration between landlords and tenants.

Following a consultation on rent with its members, ukactive made clear recommendations for legislation from the Government on behalf of the sector, calling for the ring-fencing of COVID-related arrears, the reduction of rent due during closures and restricted trading, and an extension to the current date for lifting protection measures.

Today, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay MP, announced an extension to the moratorium on eviction due to unpaid rents until 25 March 2022.

The Government also confirmed it will lay legislation this Parliamentary session, confirming the terms of binding arbitration for landlords and tenants unable to reach agreement for repayment terms.

The announcement comes after pressure from ukactive, and partner trade bodies from other sectors, for the Government to do more to support businesses which face the perfect storm of extended operating restrictions, combined with the end of financial relief measures.

ukactive awaits further detail on the moratorium extension and the specifics of the legislation, and is ready to work with the Government on laying the legislation in a timely manner, ensuring it includes the following measures:

  • Ringfencing of existing debt due to rent arrears over periods of closure.
  • Equitable reduction of 50% of rent debt covering periods of closure.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “This is a positive intervention by the Government, given the threat posed by rent payments at the end of the month, while our members continue to operate under ongoing restrictions.

“While we await the full details, we are pleased the Government has responded to our submission on rent, providing breathing space from this immediate pressure for thousands of private operators as they work their way out of the crisis.

“However, to ensure our sector’s recovery the Government must commit to a full package of support for our sector, given how hard it has been hit by the pandemic – suffering eight months of closure through lockdown at a cost of £90m in lost revenue per week, and 121 days of suppressed trading since 25 July 2020.

“We will continue to work towards a positive resolution on business rates, the extension of furlough support, VAT relief for our sector, and phase two of the National Leisure Recovery Fund which is urgently needed by public sector operators.

“A strong fitness and leisure sector is essential for our national renewal as it drives business growth, creates jobs and innovation on the high street, and improves the nation’s health and wellbeing.”