Plea for empty rates change to help firms

Claire Paraskeva, GVA's senior director for business rates in the north
Claire Paraskeva, GVA's senior director for business rates in the north
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Chartered Surveyors have repeated their call for the Government to increase the time that commercial properties can stand empty without their owners having to pay rates.

The call follows a survey which highlighted the damage being done to Britain’s economic recovery by empty rates.

The survey included the views of surveyors across Yorkshire, around nine out of 10 of whom said empty rates were a barrier to town centre regeneration, restricted overall economic growth and acted as a significant deterrent for speculative building.

Claire Paraskeva, senior director for business rates at property consultancy GVA, says: “It is clear from the RICS research that business rates on vacant premises is not only constraining investment in the construction of new developments, but also acting as a major barrier to speculative building.

“We understand the need for government to generate tax revenue in the ongoing tough economic climate; however the significant revenue of empty property rates versus business growth is now unsustainable. This is money that could be invested into hugely beneficial property- led growth, which all regions – not just Yorkshire & Humber – desperately need to see over the next couple of years.”

RICS wants the Government to increase the exemption from empty property rates for shops from three to six months and to increase the exemption for offices and industrial space from six to 12 months.

RICS Chief Economist Simon Rubinshon adds: “Increasing the empty property rates exemption period for retail, office and industrial space will help take the brakes off speculative development and provide a badly-needed boost to the wider economy which will certainly help our struggling high streets.”