Labour to call for furlough flexibility amid expected rent eviction ban extension: Labour leader Keir Starmer will on Tuesday call for the government’s job retention scheme to be replaced by a more flexible system to avoid mass unemployment, while the British Chambers of Commerce has urged ministers to produce a new package of business support to avoid more company failures, according to the FT. The moves come amid an expected extension to the current eviction ban. The newspaper added: “In a move that is expected to delight commercial property tenants but anger landlords, a government announcement on extending the existing evictions ban could come as early as this week, said one official. The government declined to comment. Leaders of the hospitality and retail industries have warned that many businesses could be at risk of collapse at the end of September when the next quarter’s rent bill is due and the current evictions ban expires. Hospitality businesses look vulnerable following the expiry of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out meal discount scheme, which ran during August and was aimed at encouraging more Britons to visit restaurants following the lifting of the national lockdown. UKHospitality, the trade body for the restaurant industry, has warned of a ‘bloodbath’ of company failures in the sector. Over the weekend, leading restaurant groups including Burger King and Itsu wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson asking for a targeted extension of the evictions ban, saying there was ‘a critical risk that many restaurants will face eviction proceedings from 1 October’.Meanwhile retailers operating in city centres, notably London, are struggling with heavily reduced numbers of shoppers since the national lockdown was lifted.” The newspaper added: “But landlords have said that the evictions ban risks hurting investors in the property industry and claimed it has been misused by some well-funded tenants that can afford to pay their rent. The government initially introduced the ban in April but it was extended in the summer to September 30. Tenants are expected to pay the rent accrued during the moratorium period, which has led landlords to argue against any further extension to the arrangements.” Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said property owners did not want empty stores, but added: “The moratorium . . . must come to an end as well-financed businesses have been exploiting the government intervention to avoid paying rent, when they are indeed able to pay, and this puts at risk our sector’s ability to support vulnerable tenants.” She added that the government should instead focus on helping businesses to manage this rental debt with grant support, which has been called for by the British Property Federation, UKHospitality and the British Retail Consortium, another industry trade body, among others.
India’s Azure Hospitality to make delayed UK debut next month with Fitzrovia restaurant and cocktail bar: India-based Azure Hospitality is to make its delayed UK debut with an opening in London. Founders Rahul Khanna and Kabir Suri will launch restaurant Pali Hill and hidden cocktail bar Bandra Bhai in Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia. Inspired by India’s diverse culinary heritage, ground-floor restaurant Pali Hill will offer a seasonal changing menu of regional sharing plates. The name comes from one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Mumbai. The open kitchen in the 60-cover restaurant will feature a large grill that will serve dishes such as razor clams with kokum juice and fresh coriander; and grilled middle white pork with sweet tamarind, crushed black pepper and fennel. Meanwhile, Bandra Bhai will be an underground cocktail bar inspired by the illicit hangouts of India’s smuggling era. The name is a “playful tribute” to a ring of smugglers who dealt in illicit goods during India’s closed economy. The 40-cover bar will be accessed via a “hidden” doorway in the venue’s basement and offer cocktails such as The Don, inspired by the Bollywood movie character’s love of whisky and spice, and the Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy, which honours the “king of Indian disco”. The venues were due to open in May, but this was pushed back as a result of the pandemic.