The Coalition for Economic Justice is calling on the government to take urgent action
Proposal to head off widespread bankruptcies as tens of thousands of commercial tenants may fail to make rent payments.
18 June 2020: The Coalition for Economic Justice announced today that it is calling on the government to take urgent action to head off widespread bankruptcies as tens of thousands of commercial tenants may fail to make rent payments. It proposes a land buy back scheme using quantitative easing (QE) which will benefit landlords, tenants and generate public revenue.
Andrew Purves, policy director at Coalition for Economic Justice said:
“A mighty game of chicken is about to take place up and down our high streets, in business parks and offices throughout the UK, between landlords and tenants. June 24th is the next rent quarter day. Who will really want to force tenants out? Who will replace the evicted companies? How long can owners exercise forbearance? For the property owners, non-payment of rent will cause their own cash flow nightmare – especially those who are heavily in debt.
The CEJ proposes an imaginative way to help out. The UK Chancellor promised to ‘do whatever it takes’ to support the economy. The Bank of England has begun a new wave of QE – but why buy corporate bonds or monetise government debt with all the problems of inequality it generates when a secure asset is available to inject money into the economy? According to government statistics, land value comprised 51% of the UK net wealth in 2016, and this has continued to increase in value. Land, or location value is often greater than the building value, particularly in urban areas.
Here’s how the scheme could work:
The Bank could offer to buy the land from landlords, leaving them with a long lease to operate or develop buildings on the land, in return for an annual payment on the rental value of the land. The Bank would offer a year’s holiday on the payment of the annual rent, as long as the erstwhile landowner passed on this rent holiday to their tenants. Owner occupiers could be given the same opportunity to sell their land to the Bank and receive an interest free injection of capital into their business.
In summary, the scheme could provide a cash injection to landlords and owner occupiers to sustain their businesses. Tenants would enjoy a twelve-month rent reduction. A new source of public revenue would be created, in accord with the logic of a land value tax.
 Hammerson plc, for example has net debt of £2.4bn after recent disposals, and its value fell by 16% in 2019. https://www.egi.co.uk/news/hammerson-to-focus-on-shrinking-debt-as-values-slide/
For more info: Andrew Purves 07770 917723, firstname.lastname@example.org