The British Property Federation has made a last ditch attempt to halt the introduction of empty rates legislation and warned Chancellor Alistair Darling it was the ‘most significant threat to the property industry in recent times’.
BPF’s chief executive Liz Peace, who also spoke on the Today Programme and Five Live’s Wake up to Money about the issue this morning dubbing the government’s plans as a £3bn tax raid, said the government was making a ‘disastrous move’ and should reconsider its plans.
She said: ‘Despite all the talk of open government, this ill-conceived move has been brought in without fair and proper consultation. There is a clear lack of joined up thinking between the Treasury and Communities departments, and ministers must understand the financial risks that private firms take to regenerate our towns and cities. Cutting rate relief will be a major blow for those striving to deliver sustainable communities.'
The BPF has today also written a letter to the Chancellor, along with the Business Centres Association, the Confederation of British Industry, the RICS, and the Rating Surveyor’s Association, stating that the removal of empty rate relief would ‘severely limit the scale of development undertaken by the property industry thereby stifling regeneration’.
They urged the government to rethink the legislation and said: ‘It would be naïve to believe that the new legislation will not have an adverse impact on business growth rates in the economy and on UK competitiveness – something we can ill-afford in the current economic climate…there is flexibility available to reduce the level at which empty rates are charged. We urge the Government to give this urgent consideration before empty property rates legislation inflicts further serious damage on the property development industry.’
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