Lancashire businesses' relief as evictions ban is extended to next spring

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Small businesses acrossLancashire are sharing a sigh of relief  after the latest government  coronavirus aid move.

The Blackpool-based Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the extension on a temporary ban on evictions by their landlords for non-payment of rent until March next year.

The moratorium had been due to end this month but will now end on March 25.

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FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “This announcement will be a big relief for many anxious small business tenants who have been dealing with a huge amount of disruption over the last 15 months. In many cases they were two weeks away from facing legal proceedings for rent they could not afford, for premises that have been shut.

FSB national chairman Mike CherryFSB national chairman Mike Cherry
FSB national chairman Mike Cherry

"Many will have had no opportunity to raise any revenue, as they have been unable to use their premises for a prolonged period.

“We’re pleased to see the moratorium will be extended for a meaningful amount of time, allowing more breathing room for small firms to embark on negotiations with their landlords, rather than worrying about it ending up in court.

"The clear signal from today is that landlords should now join these discussions, rather than simply waiting to launch a legal bid for 100% of rent for the whole period.

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“Action on encouraging negotiations about historic rent arrears between landlords and small business tenants is much needed. The next step is key, which is how the Government will design the binding mediation system for historic arrears.

"This ‘back-stop’ system is focused on businesses that have been forcibly closed, which does not include the supply chain. This means that the Government must move forward with the plans for £1.5bn of business rates support for this group.

“We hope these changes will all help to incentivise landlords to enter into positive negotiations with their tenants.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that in order to ensure landlords are protected, the government is making clear that businesses who are able to pay rent, must do so. Tenants should start paying their rent as soon as restrictions change, and they are given the green light to open.

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He said: "This special scheme reflects the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and responds to the unique challenges faced by some businesses. It strikes the right balance between protecting landlords while also helping businesses most in need, so they are able to reopen when it is safe to do so.

They will ensure many viable businesses can continue to operate and debts accrued as a result of the pandemic are resolved to mutual benefit swiftly.