The government has extended the commercial eviction ban until March 2022 in the wake of Monday’s decision to push back so-called freedom day to 19 July.
The news, delivered in the House of Commons today by chief secretary of the Treasury Steve Barclay, will offer business some breathing space in light of Covid restrictions continuing by another month.
The moratorium of commercial evictions was first announced in April last year, and was initially designed to help struggling businesses through to September 2020.
“We will introduce legislation in this parliament session to establish a backstop so that where commercial negotiations between tenants and landlords are not successful, they go into binding arbitration,” Barclay said.
“Until that legislation is on the statue book existent measures will stay in place, including extending the existing moratorium in place to protect tenants from eviction to 25 march 2022.
“All tenants should start to pay rent again in accordance with the terms of their lease or as otherwise agreed with their landlord.”
The eviction ban was originally extended to the end of June 2021 to fit in with plans to get rid of final social distancing rules in line with the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Businesses that are still unable to operate at full capacity, like pubs, restaurants and theatres, and therefore struggling to make profit, will particularly benefit from the decision.
Barclay said his announcement today “strikes the right balance between protecting landlords and supporting those businesses that are most in need”.
“It sets out a long term solution to the resolution to Covid-19 rent, ensuring that many businesses can continue to operate and that debts accrued during the pandemic are quickly resolved to mutual benefit,” he said.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves called for a wider extension of all Covid-related economic support, including to the furlough scheme.
She also slammed the government for letting the Indian Delta variant enter the UK, leading to a delay in shedding restrictions.
She said it had cost the economy £4.7bn.
“We are not calling for forever support,” she said.
“We are calling for economic support that matches the timetable for opening up that the government itself has set. That’s the right thing for business, the right thing for workers and the right thing for our economy too.”