A government investment of £1.75bn – to pay 50 per cent of rents across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for six months – would save 375,000 jobs and offer a return on investment of nearly £7bn.
That is the claim made by five industry bodies – ukactive, UKHospitality, the British Property Federation (BPF), British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Revo – who have joined forces to put pressure on the government to introduce a "Property Bounceback Grant" (PBG).
In an open letter, the trade organisations propose a PBG which would see the government issuing grants that would cover up to 50 per cent of rent and service charges between March and September.
Under the proposals, the grants would be conditional on agreement by the landlord and tenant to account for the remaining 50 per cent of the rent and service charges through the Government’s Code of Practice.
The scheme would only be open for businesses in hospitality, leisure and retail – sectors that the five partners say have been "disproportionately hit" by the crisis.
ukactive has previously warned
of the threat to the fitness industry the rent crisis has caused.
Last week DW Sports announced
it was restructuring its gym and leisure portfolio and entered into administration, with gyms, stores and jobs threatened.
ukactive said this could be the "tip of the iceberg" for operators in the sector failing – unless the government provides urgent financial and regulatory support.
"COVID-19 has devasted the fitness and leisure sector, with many businesses having zero income but still facing rent costs," said Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive.
"Pre-COVID-19, these businesses were viable and profitable.
“ukactive has joined forces with other trade associations and representative bodies, to call on the Government to implement the Property Bounceback Grant.
“With Government support, we can keep fitness facilities open at a time when they are needed the most. Keeping facilities open is essential in order to give people from all backgrounds the support and opportunities to become fitter and stronger, which has been shown to improve our resilience to COVID-19.”