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August 1, 2008

Government faces rebellion over imposition of full tax on empty buildings

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by Lin Freestone

Government faces rebellion over imposition of full tax on empty buildings

Backbench MPs are organising a rebellion over the government’s decision to impose the full £1.4bn cost of commercial property rates on empty buildings. An early day motion has been signed calling for the tax to be scrapped.

From the beginning of April this year, owners of empty industrial buildings have had to pay full rates after a period of six months has elapsed. Prior to this they had full relief. Owners of other commercial property now have to pay full rates following three months’ vacancy, whereas they used to receive 50% relief.

Thirty-five Labour MPs, most of whom represent some of the country’s poorest constituencies, are supporting the British Property Federation’s campaign against empty rates.

There is growing discontent over the removal of empty rate relief. The rebel MPs want the government to look again at this issue and help rather than hinder the speed of regeneration and housing projects across the country.

The motion says: This house urges the government to exercise its power to reintroduce empty property rate relief immediately in response to the world economic downturn and worsening conditions in the property market.


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