Around 15m sq ft of property has been demolished as a result of the hated empty rates tax, one year after the government made changes to the tariff, the British Property Federation (BPF) revealed this week as it launched an online portal to fight the tax.
The trade body has this week launched www.emptyrates.com to give the public a voice over the damage the tax is doing to the property market, regeneration and the wider economy.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, said: ‘While property is a fundamental driver in our economy, we’re not asking for any bailouts, we just want fairness and taxing empty space is simply not fair. With every passing day Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson are digging a bigger hole for us to climb out of.’
The Confederation of British Industry, in its budget submission, has asked the government to consider increasing relief by 50% for struggling businesses.
On 1 April last year, the government removed the relief from business rates for empty commercial space. Before this, owners of empty offices and shops paid 50% of their rates bills; and industrial owners paid nothing. Since that date, both had to pay full rates following short exemption periods.
A minor change to the tax in November’s pre-budget report for rateable properties below £15,000 has made little difference to the industry.