Calls for blanket rent deferral for Hampstead businesses in council sites

Hampstead village. Picture: Ken Mears

Hampstead village. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A Camden politician has called for a blanket deferral on business rents to help independents survive the coronavirus lockdown.

Marcos Gold, BID Manager at Hampstead Village BID. Picture: Polly Hancock

Marcos Gold, BID Manager at Hampstead Village BID. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A report prepared for Camden Council’s virtual meeting on May 11 revealed the authority is offering struggling businesses renting council-owned properties the chance to put off paying “some or all of their rent” for three months.

Hampstead Town ward councillor, Oliver Cooper, suggested this be made automatic and extended to six months.

“Note it’s a deferral, not a relief, for up to three months, which is rapidly coming up soon, for some of the rent, not necessarily all of it, and for some businesses, not all and only when they ask,” he said.

Cllr Cooper asked whether details of the government’s Small Business Grants Fund, which sees firms receive up to £10,000, could be sent out to all eligible businesses which have not yet claimed.

Cllr Oliver Cooper

Cllr Oliver Cooper - Credit: Oliver Cooper

Jon Rowney, executive director of corporate services at Camden, said 87 per cent of those who qualify have received the money, representing more than £61 million.

About £39 million of that was paid directly to businesses on the day government released the funds.

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After the meeting, Hampstead Village Business Improvement District (BID) manager, Marcos Gold, said: “We want as many businesses to get the grants available, and if there is more the council can be doing proactively so no business is struggling we would support that.

“Most of them have found it straight forward and the grants paid on time.”

However, Marcos is supportive of the council’s case-by-case rent deferral policy, as “not all businesses are in that situation”.

In the meeting, Gillian Marston, executive director of supporting communities at Camden, said the authority has been in contact with 700 businesses.

Commenting afterwards, Cllr Danny Beales, cabinet member for investing in communities and an inclusive economy, added: “We know that many businesses are worried about their ability to pay business rates and other costs, and we are working hard to support them, both during this initial period and going forward towards an eventual recovery.”

He said the council has provided £196 million in business rate relief and paid more than 3,000 grants to businesses, and its staff are “out in the borough” every day offering advice and information.

Cllr Beales said the council has asked other landlords to take a “flexible approach”.

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