The BPF wants the complete scrapping of empty property rates (EPR) as well as a re-think on changing the planning use of buildings to enable empty shops to be used more efficiently for non-retail pursuits.
The EPR tax is paid by whoever owns the lease, meaning that occupiers are also affected if they have a long-term lease. The British Property Federation has said it was the equivalent of making the unemployed pay income tax, calling again for full scrapping of the tax.
Liz Peace, BPF chief exeuctive, said: "Ministers must take note of how bad the property sector has been hit by the Recession, and also look specifically at how much worse things have got since they began charging empty rates last year. This is unequivocal evidence of the failure of this policy to bring vacant properties back into use, as property owners and any occupiers who hold a lease, try in vain to find new tenants.
"Charging full business rates on empty shops is also killing off businesses. Over 15 million sq ft of space has been demolished by firms wishing to avoid paying the tax.
"If empty rates were reduced and collected by local authorities rather than central government, the money could go back into the public realm and benefit the areas with high vacancy rates. But this doesn’t happen. It’s simply a money generator that is the equivalent of making the unemployed pay income tax."
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