By David Garness, managing director of Garness Jones
Another week has passed in lockdown and it is another week of intensified pressure on many businesses which are still unable to trade as normal and bring in that much needed income.
I must say I have once again been impressed by the Government’s continuing packages of support, particularly for smaller businesses.
This has again been demonstrated this week with the confirmation of the new ‘bounce back loans scheme’.
This will see businesses able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 cash and be able to access it within days due to the lack of red tape in the application process.
I am absolutely certain that this scheme will give many businesses a vital cash injection to help them through continued tough times.
The Government has clearly been doing all it can to give businesses some breathing space since lockdown began on March 23.
Staff wages are the biggest expenditure for most businesses, which the Furlough Scheme looked to address by covering 80 of wages. Business rates were also stopped for tens of thousands of retailers and leisure operators.
The ‘bounce back’ loans are the latest recognition from the Government that with every passing day that the lockdown remains in place, the pressure on business intensifies. Yet the Government won’t be able to continue adding to these deals endlessly.
It is with that in mind that I again refer to the two things which I think are crucial right now – common sense and responsibility in business. They are two things that our team at Garness Jones are keeping at forefront of our minds in each and every aspect of our work.
I noted another update from the Government with regards to new measures being introduced to protect the UK high street from aggressive rent collection and closure by landlords.
I have to say that the issue of landlords being aggressive in terms of demanding rent collections or going down the route of seeking winding up petitions against struggling tenants is not something we have seen at all across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
Indeed we have seen very sensible approaches across the board where in fact, landlords have been very accommodating with new rental agreements, which again have given businesses and tenants some breathing space to come through these challenging times.
The important thing that our Property Management team have been stressing to those we support is to take a balanced view of things.
I see no advantage to a landlord of issuing a winding up order on a tenant who, prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, was a good and reliable client, and will remain so when things return to normal. It is much better to help them if possible.
Equally, I would be disappointed to hear of any businesses using this current situation to avoid paying invoices and rents that they can actually afford to pay now.
I think landlords can sometimes be unfairly considered to be the ones who can afford to take a hit in tough times, but the reality is that they too have financial commitments to meet.
That is something we are making sure is understood when we are negotiating between parties at present.
Collective, supporting and understanding approach remains key
This remains a collective situation for us all, and it is only by being supportive of one another that we’ll come out this stronger.
The situation changes with every passing week and it is why our team is holding weekly meetings (video calls of course) every Monday to discuss the new challenges being faced and how we can best support our clients and others with the issues they face.
Our Property Management team are working hard to find solutions for people who are turning to us as the financial pressures intensify.
Just this week an experienced landlord with some 25-30 tenants turned to us to help as he just didn’t know where he stood from a legal perspective with regards to managing the many issues which have arisen with tenants.
Without knowledge of the law and not having being able to fully digest all the new measures introduced by the Government to help, he turned to us as he knew we’d be able to help him make a rational, informed and of course legal decision.
That is what we are continuing to do. Help businesses through the current fog, until the road ahead becomes much clearer.
IMAGE: Screenshot of the Government's website providing guidance and support to business in response to Covid-19 - Click here
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