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Retailers angry over new goverment diktat
Mar '08
Government defiance over a new tax on empty property, coming into force from 01 April, 2008 is being condemned by the country's major retailers, office and warehouse owners. They believe it will harm communities and damage business.

In an unprecedented demonstration of anger, the BPF, BRC, BCA and commercial occupiers' body CoreNet Global are telling ministers that the Government is ignoring the reality of the current economy and property market in their desperation to plug holes in the nation's finances.

Today's rule change will see full rates charged on empty properties, with the Government raking in an extra three billion pounds from businesses over the next three years.

The trade bodies, representing occupiers and owners, large and small, have written to Local Government Minister John Healey saying he is ignoring the basic business principle that a property owner needs to lease out their property in order to make their business work. Properties are empty because they are not wanted at that time or place and new tax burdens will not change this.

Similarly, cutting relief will reduce the flexibility of leases and cut choice for small businesses wanting to move to office or retail space that fits their changing needs. Regeneration projects will be rendered unviable because of the added costs, undermining Government aims and damaging communities.

Until today (Tuesday), no business rates were due for the first three months that shops and offices were empty. After that, 50 per cent of the normal rate had to be paid.

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