COVID-19: Ban on commercial evictions introduced during the pandemic to be extended until 2022, govt source says

The government is to extend the ban on commercial evictions introduced during the pandemic until 2022, Sky News understands.

On Wednesday, ministers are expected to announce that the moratorium for business tenants will not expire at the end of this month as planned and will instead continue for at least the rest of the year, according to a government source.

It is believed that restrictions on landlords using laws permitting them to recover rent arrears by selling a tenant’s goods will also be continued.

A bartender wearing a face mask stands outside a bar in Cardiff ahead of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes being forced to stop selling alcohol and shut by 6pm as part of a new round of coronavirus restrictions that come into force in Wales on Friday night.
Many businesses have warned they face huge debts after having to operate at limited capacity

It comes two days after Boris Johnson announced the delay of easing lockdown restrictions by four weeks, with the new date for the final step of the government’s roadmap set for 19 July.

The PM described the July date as “terminus”, with most of the remaining restrictions set to be removed then.

A Treasury minister is to officially announce the extension to the moratorium on commercial evictions during a statement on the economy in the Commons on Wednesday, the source said.

The move is likely to offer some relief to businesses who have been unable to negotiate rent deferrals with landlords and feared being evicted from their properties once the protections were due to end in two weeks’ time.

But some landlords have previously raised concerns that the moratorium has allowed some businesses to escape paying rent despite still making profits.

The government’s extension of the policy follows a call for evidence launched in the spring which looked at how best to replace or end the protections.

Mr Sunak is also understood to be pushing for companies to commit to climate reporting
It is expected that the Treasury will announce an extension to the ban on commercial evictions on Wednesday

Pressed on the matter earlier on Tuesday, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “We are considering responses to a recent call for evidence on the next steps with commercial rent and we will set out response shortly.”

The moratorium on commercial evictions was first introduced in April 2020 to help struggling businesses through the pandemic and was later extended until September of last year.

The policy was then extended further, but had been due to end at the end of June.

Hospitality and retail firms have previously warned ministers that without a further extension to the moratorium, they will face huge and unrecoverable levels of debt.

Following the PM’s announcement of the delay of lockdown easing on Monday, Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, said: “We must acknowledge the pain felt by businesses in hospitality, leisure and live events.

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PM: Delay will save ‘thousands of lives’

“At best they’re operating with reduced capacity hitting revenues, and at worst, some aren’t open at all.

“Continuing restrictions means the government must urgently revisit the support available.

“That starts with holding back on the tapering of business rates relief and extending the commercial rent moratorium for those sectors most impacted.”

Claire Walker, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), added: “It would be extraordinary if we saw government retracting support to businesses now.”

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