Firms hit by rate changes

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A DECISION to remove a temporary exemption from business rates for empty properties while the economy is weak has been criticised by city business chiefs.

In 2009 the Government exempted all unoccupied business properties worth £15,000 or less.

The exemption was last year raised to apply to properties worth less than £18,000, but last month it was removed and the figure has now been reduced to just above the original rate of £2,600.

Olivia Stuart-Harris, of Place Properties company, of School Green Lane, Fulwood, said: “How can this be justified on an empty property?”

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director Richard Wright said: “We have lobbied hard for the threshold for empty rates to stay at £18,000 because we understand the potential effect this could have on businesses.”