Property industry urges support for empty rates petition

16 Aug 2011

Policy area: Tax & Finance, Town centre & Retail

The British Property Federation has urged the property industry to throw its weight behind a new petition calling for the Coalition Government’s empty rates hike to be scrapped.

The petition asks Government to remove the “unfair Empty Property Rates (EPR) threshold from £2,600 Rateable Value (RV) and reinstate the £18,000 RV threshold under which EPR are not payable for a minimum period of two years.”

The Directgov website recently introduced a provision meaning that if the petition attracts 100,000 signatures then it will be debated in Parliament. The empty rates petition, despite being launched just days ago, has already attracted almost 600 supporters.

Dubbed the ‘bombsite Britain’ tax, empty property rates levies full business rates on unoccupied offices, shops and warehouses and has famously led to millions of square feet of property being demolished since its introduction.

The coalition government dramatically lowered the threshold from £18,000 to £2,600 in April this year, costing businesses an estimated £400m a year, putting considerable pressure on SMEs and start ups – the lifeblood of the British economy – and damaging job creation.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The property industry needs to keep fighting this tax on hardship that has had such a damaging impact on both the industry itself and the wider economy.

“Property is a fundamental driver of our economy and taxing empty space acts like a ball and chain as the industry searches for growth and economic recovery.

“I would urge everyone to sign the petition and let government know just how damaging empty property rates have been.”