01 April 2008
Property management and business leaders are protesting against today's termination of empty property tax relief for vacant commercial and industrial buildings in England and Wales.
Organisations such as the British Chamber of Commerce, the British Retail Consortium and the Business Centre Association have said that the new tax rules on empty commercial space will harm communities and damage business.
Until today, no business rates were due for the first three months that shops and offices were empty. After that, 50 per cent of the normal rate had to be paid.
From today, after the first three months, full rates must be paid even if no new tenants have been found.
The government hopes that the new regime will raise an extra £1 billion a year, while boosting occupancy rates and encouraging regeneration.
But a report published today by Lambert Smith Hampton has revealed that 80 per cent of the property industry - occupiers, investors and developers - thinks that the changes to rates relief would have a detrimental effect on town regeneration.
The report also shows that 53 per cent of respondents said the changes would mean they would review their property portfolios, either by slowing their development programme or demolishing buildings that are unattractive to tenants and buyers.
Director general of the British Retail Consortium Stephen Robertson said:
"No one gains by keeping property empty. It's unoccupied because there isn't the demand for it at that time and place. Piling on taxes will not conjure up new tenants or drive down rents but will weaken the prospects for local regeneration."
David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce added:
"The government's new policy will create financial insecurity for companies currently in possession of empty properties. This is little more than another tax hike on business."