Today’s pre-budget report marks a triumph for the Business Centre Association (BCA) after the Chancellor revealed that empty property rate relief will be extended until 2011, with the rateable value threshold raised from £15,000 to £18,000 rateable value (RV).

The decision from the Treasury follows last months BCA House of Commons reception, where cross-party MPs were urged to raise the £15,000 RV threshold on empty property rates as well as extend the exemption into the next budget report.

The BCA has extensively lobbied the Government to rethink the empty property rates legislation since its introduction in 2008, arguing that the Government’s justification for charging full rates on empty properties was fundamentally unsound.

The Association argues that it is a hardship tax that hampers regeneration that has seen the cessation of speculative developments, including those in regeneration and rural areas.

Jennifer Brooke, executive director of BCA comments: “Empty property rates have had a far reaching and crippling effect across the economic spectrum and it is positive the Chancellor has recognised the damaging impact of this tax in today’s pre-budget report.

“Today’s decision should stimulate the market and encourage the development of new flexible space. This in turn will help ease the financial pressures for SME’s and the flexible space sector.”

“The BCA believes that the decision on empty property rates announced in today’s pre-budget report will have a positive effect on our members and the businesses that are based in cost-effective flexible space.”

Phil Wilson MP says of today’s decision: “I have worked closely with the BCA to ensure that the rateable value was raised in the pre-budget report. It is reassuring that the Chancellor has today supported small businesses as well as the flexible space sector.

“It is key, that today’s decision on empty property rates does not become a temporary measure and I will continue to lobby on behalf of my constituents and the BCA that the current £18,000 RV be written into the statute books. “

Sandra Gidley MP, comments: “Today’s decision on empty property rates is a victory for small businesses and the wider commercial property market.

“Empty property rates are a tax on hardship, taxing individuals and companies on assets that generate no income.

“Both the flexible space market and UK plc will benefit from the Chancellor’s commitment to extend the £18,000 RV for another year and it is encouraging that the Government is supporting businesses during this difficult economic period.”

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