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Decision details

Approval for the application of a new rent deferment policy to apply during the initial stages of the UK response to the Coronavirus

Decision Maker: Simon Hendey (Director - Housing and Commercial)

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decision:

To apply a new policy to allow a three month rent deferment for tenants affected by the Corona Virus, to be recovered back over the next nine month period, as confirmed by the Gold Meeting of 21 March 2020.

Reasons for the decision:

The widespread effects of the Covid 19 virus mean that there is a strong likelihood businesses that occupy council premises will be experiencing cashflow difficulties. Requests to give rent free periods are being received.

The government is offering support to business which is being administered by the Council’s Economic Regeneration team.

Given this recognised pressure on business in the County a proposal was shared with the Gold Meeting to put in place an emergency policy to deal with the initial period of population lockdown.

The policy that has been confirmed by CEOs is based on a single approach being used when request are made for a rent-free period or a deferment of rent payments. The key points are:
a. On request only
b. Three-month deferment of rent
c. Recovered over nine months
d. (Or the remaining term of the lease, if that is shorter.)
e. On equal instalments
f. No interest charge for the deferred rent

The total exposure of the Council in cashflow terms is estimated at £1.2 million.

This will include a three-month delay in issuing service charge demands.

Each individual application of the policy will be captured by Officer Delegated Decision forms on a standard template. The period for rent deferment is from 23rd March 2020 to 23rd June 2020, at which point the approach will be re-considered.

I confirm that in making this decision I have considered the following in line with Wiltshire Council’s Constitution:

Key decision requirements: NA

Views of relevant cabinet member(s), committee chairman, area board(s): Gold Meeting of 20 March considered this policy.


Consideration of the area boards and delegated decision checklist for officers on the issue of when and how to involve local councillors and area boards in decisions about local services: NA

Implication of any council policy, initiative, strategy or procedure: This is a new policy and ties in with the work to support local businesses by the Economic Regeneration team

Consultation in accordance with requirements and expectations of
consultation with the public: Relevant heads of service and directors have been consulted

Range of options available: Given the unprecedented circumstances this is considered to be the appropriate option at this time. Others are examined below.

Staffing, financial and legal implications: Finance were fully consulted in the decision making process

Risk assessment: This has been recorded on the corporate risk register with a total cashflow exposure of £1.2 million

Involvement of statutory officers and/or directors: Yes

Regional or national guidance from other bodies: Ties in with regional and national support for businesses in light of national impositions arising from Covid 19

The council’s constitution: Yes

This contract is suitable for execution under the e-signature process: NA

Alternative options considered:

Refuse rent deferment requests. This may have an effect on the businesses involved and is against the wider council and central government to support them through the Coronavirus.

Adopt an ad-hoc approach. This will create the potential for inconsistent approach to the problem. A clear policy that officers can refer to will reduce the pressures on officers in dealing with these requests.

Allow a rent-free period. The approach of a deferment is considered to be an appropriate and proportionate response to the early stages of the response to the Coronavirus.

Conflict of Interest: Not applicable.

Background: By power given to me pursuant to paragraph 1 of Part 3 Section D2 of Wiltshire Council’s Constitution Scheme of Delegation to Officers (as last updated in February 2016) adopted by the Council at its meeting on 9th November 2010 or any subsequent successor constitution, I am authorised to make the above decision.

Contact: Simon Hendey, Director - Housing and Commercial Email: simon.hendey@wiltshire.gov.uk.

Publication date: 01/06/2020

Date of decision: 23/03/2020

Accompanying Documents:

 

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