The saga behind the ever-unpopular Empty Rates Tax continues this month as the British Property Federation-led campaign for the abolition of the legislation has gained further support from major UK and international corporations and MPs.
On the 10th August this year the British Property Federation set up a campaign page on their website to support their now year-long campaign for the abolishment of the Empty Tax legislation which has seen the removal of rate relief on empty industrial and commercial properties. Inviting those affected by the government legislation to provide evidence to support their campaign, Peter Cosmetatos, BPF director for finance and investment, incited visitors to the BPF’s website to help “…. to prove what a disastrous move this has been…..We want people to email us so that, with enough concrete examples of the impact of this change, we can campaign more effectively for a workable solution…”
Support for the campaign has continued to grow with big-brand corporations including Tesco, Nokia, BA, McDonalds, B&Q, British Airways, Next, Legal & General Brixton, Canary Wharf and Land Securities on board with BPF’s move to get business rate relief on empty buildings reapplied immediately. Political support for the campaign is also growing, now with signatures from over 70 MPs of all parties.
As cited in our article of 22nd September, the empty rates tax legislation has hit property owners hard with the eradication of the 50pc relief from business rates for owners of empty retail and commercial office space and the 100pc relief for warehouse and factory owners. Introduced in April this year and initially intended to encourage Landlords of empty property to release new space onto the market, and thereby increase property “recycling”, the decision has backfired as Landlords, struggling to meet the new tax laws amidst the downturn, are choosing instead to simply demolish buildings. For now occupiers remain relatively unaffected but it is feared that once the economy recovers and demand once again increases it will not be met due to a reduced supply of commercial property space and rates will see a consequential rise.
With open letter to the prime minister, published in Property Week Magazine issue 27.10.08, the BPF and supporting parties urged Gordon Brown to restore the relief of empty tax. Part of the open letter read; “Restore the empty rate relief that existed before 1April 2008 so that all unoccupied properties receive full relief for the first 3 months; shops and offices pay 50% subsequently; and industrial premises receive full relief indefinitely. We are united in calling for this, and support Property Week wholeheartedly in its ‘Empty Threat’ campaign to secure these aims.”
On 28th October a parliamentary reception was held to discuss the growing concerns over the tax during which a number of MPs and industry insiders, including Tom Stokes, managing director of SME office space specialists Evans Easyspace, spoke out against the legislation.
Again all eyes turn to Gordon Brown to put a stop to the policy which continues to harm the interests of landlords and occupiers alike as well as having a potentially negative impact on further speculative development of commercial property across the UK.
If you have been affected by the Empty Rates legislation and would like to give your support the the BPF’s campaign, CLICK HERE to be taken to the BPF’s main campaign page.
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