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‘Empty property tax must be scrapped’

The report reveals:

* Empty property rates will hinder a private-sector led economic recovery. Last year, empty rate relief was worth £1.2billion to businesses;
* The so-called "bombsite Britain" tax has caused landlords to demolish empty properties instead of paying the new rates. This will contract the fixed capital stock and make recovery more difficult;
* The tax has badly hit many pensioners who are funding their retirement with rental income from a small number of commercial properties;
* Collecting Empty Property Rates also causes councils problems, with increased administrative and collection costs. And some are using taxpayers’ money to destroy buildings to avoid paying the tax themselves;
* In opposition, senior Liberal Democrat and Conservatives were highly critical of the tax, but have so far only made matters worse by removing the limited relief that was available for small business units.

BPF chief executive Liz Peace said: "The property industry welcomes the publication of this timely report, which reinforces much of what we have said about this economically destructive tax.

"It is now clear that charging Empty Property Rates is an unfair burden on taxpayers that is restricting economic growth, and has caused millions of square feet of perfectly usable business space to be demolished.

"Government claims to be serious about allowing businesses to drive the UK’s recovery, but hiking tax on empty properties threatens to scupper many firms’ ability to grow.

"We would urge ministers – many of whom were so critical of the tax in opposition – to scrap this enemy of enterprise in Wednesday’s Budget."

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