The British Property Federation (BPF) is urging UK chancellor, George Osborne to help small businesses grow in the upcoming Budget by giving tax relief on empty property rates.
As many as 65 MPs support a reform of the empty rates tax which was introduced by the last Labour Government. This unpopular tax has also been called the bombsite Britain tax as millions of square feet of usable property has been demolished, when it could have been let on a flexible basis to small businesses. It's been claimed this is holding back the growth of small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) which need a steady supply of vacant space in which to grow. At the moment business center owners cannot build or office space due to the high cost of the empty rate tax.
The BPF is calling for targeted concessions that would help the small business sector, and is asking for relief from empty rates for low value properties (up to a rateable value of £18,000), a concession which was withdrawn by the Coalition Government in 2011. It would also like to see relief from empty rates for new developments, and for buildings that fall empty during regeneration and refurbishment programs.
Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer is leading the calls to the Chancellor and said "Empty Property Rates are a progressive and negative form of taxation which choke economic growth and penalize those already suffering from the wider economic situation. I firmly believe that the Government should take action at the upcoming budget to bring some relief to those within the property industry, and that's exactly what I shall be asking the Chancellor to do."
Liz Pearce, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation said "We believe SME’s- both in the property sector and in the wider economy, will have been particularly disadvantaged as a result of the current rules."
Jennifer Brooke, Executive Director of the Business Centre Association has commented "If the government does not act quickly, the BCA predicts that there will be a critical shortage of flexible space within the next two years."
The BPF is urging business owners to contact their MPs through their campaign website and to give their experience of empty rates. There is also a petition calling upon the government to reinstate the £18,000 empty property rates threshold.