Comment from Jerry Schurder, head of rating, Gerald Eve:
One of the reasons why speculative development has dried up over recent years is the enormous risk that developers face of having to pay empty rates, should their developments remain vacant upon completion.
Allowing a significant period potentially free of EPR could help stimulate new schemes but the planned maximum 18 month grace period may be insufficient and should be 2 years minimum, and preferably three, if the scheme is to provide material benefit.
This would be at no cost to the Exchequer if the result of the exempt period is to stimulate new development and hence rates income that would not otherwise have occurred.
“It is unfortunate that this scheme is only to kick in next Autumn – there is no reason why it could not commence sooner.
The scheme should also be extended to major refurbishments and not limited to new buildings only.”
Jerry Schurder, head of rating, Gerald Eve