Local authorities collected over £1.1 billion in empty property rates in 2011-12, a 19 per cent rise in two years, according to data released today.
Research from The Taxpayers‘ Alliance has found that business rates in London were the highest regionally, with non-domestic business rates levied on empty properties in 2011-12 totalling £350.3 million, followed by the South East at £151 million.
In his Budget announcement last month, Chancellor George Osborne ignored calls from retailers to freeze business rates in a bid to reduce costs and last week, business rates for the 2013-14 tax year shot up 2.6 per cent.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has previously called the move to tax empty properties during a downturn ludicrous situation, completely counterproductive and economically very damaging” and Matthew Sinclair, CEO of The Taxpayers‘ Alliance, agreed that the move could be damaging to future growth.
“It is extremely unfair that property owners are being hit with enormous Business Rates on properties which are empty, with no rent coming in that they can use to pay the bill,” Sinclair said.
“The mere threat of having to pay rates on empty properties is discouraging people from putting money into new developments or refurbishing existing properties, which is undermining the prospects for economic growth.
“As the true scale of this ugly tax becomes apparent, Ministers cannot keep ignoring their own rhetoric in opposition and leave it in place.”