Increases in rates on vacant properties 'punish businesses'

16 November, 2007

Changes to the rules on charging rates for empty properties will hit the trade hard, retailers have warned.

From April 1 next year, businesses will have to pay full rates for vacant properties after an initial rent-free period of three months.

Currently, they are required to pay only 50 per cent after the first three months.

While the Treasury has introduced the changes to try to clamp down on retail units lying vacant for long periods, both retailers and trade bodies say the government has misunderstood the reasons for the problem.

Wine Cellar's head of property Paul Richards said the changes showed a "lack of understanding by the government as to why properties are vacant".

He added: "Changing to full rates after three months is punishing business for not being able to trade from a shop."

The British Retail Consortium is one body that has heavily opposed the changes. The BRC's head of property, Paul Browne, said that, while the changes will definitely go ahead, "we're still investigating what scope there is for flexibility".

The Treasury has also removed the exemption from industrial and warehouse property so that the full rate will be applied if they have been empty for six months or more.




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