We have offered a three-month rent-free period to the occupiers of our small business premises in Eastbourne and Hastings — to help them withstand the financial impact of the coronavirus.

The rent concession is available to tenants of our Pacific House offices in Eastbourne and our Innovation Centre and Creative Media Centre in Hastings.

These office buildings remain fully operational – with the exception of reception services — and accessible to tenants via their electronic entry systems. Some occupants have switched to home working. Others are classified as essential service providers and are working from their offices as normal — subject to government safety guidelines — as are firms whose staff, due to the nature of their businesses, cannot work from home.

The offer is applicable from 1 April to rent-paying tenants who were up to date with their payments by the end of March and agree to stay for the next 12 months, leaving them to pay only their service charge for the next three months.

We have also reduced the heating, lighting, waste collection and non-essential maintenance of our offices in line with their reduced occupancy levels to minimise the service charge costs for our tenants. Our reception staff have been given furlough under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The rent concession is coming from our own finances and is in addition to any Government support businesses can obtain. Sea Change Sussex is a non-profit organisation which receives no funding from Government nor local authorities towards our running costs.

Andrew Frost, Development Director at Sea Change Sussex, comments:

“We know how hard COVID-19 is hitting small companies in East Sussex. Many businesses can get emergency Government support for wages and rates. And we’re glad to hear a number of our tenants have already received Small Business Grant payments to help with other expenses, thanks to the hard work of the local councils that administer them.

“But this isn’t enough to cover all our tenants’ costs — and we’re keen to do what we can to support them and protect local jobs. In some cases, our tenants have told us the rent concession will enable them to stay in business, which is heartening. We hope that, by making this investment in the local economy, we’ll be able to work with our partners to help East Sussex businesses survive the lockdown and be in good shape to spring back into action when restrictions are lifted and the economy rebounds.”