Two of the major occupier representative bodies have teamed up to combat government proposals to remove rate relief from empty commercial buildings.

The British Retail Consortium and CoreNet have jointly submitted a letter of complaint to Gordon Brown in an attempt to derail what the pair have describe as an ‘empty property tax grab.’

The joint letter written by Kevin Hawkins, director general of the BRC and Richard Paver, president of CoreNet Global, urges the chancellor to abandon his plans which they believe will disrupt regeneration and do nothing to boost occupancy rates which it is intended to do.

For retail premises currently no business rates are paid for the first three months. After this 50% is paid for the following three months before full rates come into affect from then on.

Hawkins said: ‘This is nothing more than a barefaced cash grab. The Treasury claims it is being introduced to boost occupancy rates but the logic doesn’t hang together. No one gains by keeping property empty. Properties are unoccupied because there isn’t demand for it at that time and place.’

Laver said: ‘The proposals seem to have been put into the Finance Bill on the basis of the Lyons Inquiry and without industry consultation. The effects on businesses we, together with the British Retail Consortium, have identified are significant and should not be ignored.’