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BPF urges government to reform business rates
British Property Federation submits wish list to government to ease pressure on shop owners.

By Christina Williams

6 June 2014

The British Property Federation (BPF) has joined forces with the British Council of Shopping Centres to urge the government to pursue further reform of the business rates system. The move comes in response to a consultation between the Treasury and the DCLF (Department for Communities and Local Government) about the Administration of Business Rates, which closes today.

Specifically, the BPF has urged the government to address three issues; the frequency of revaluations of business properties, the link between business rates and the Retail Price Index and reintroduction of a six-month empty rates relief for all properties. The move comes as part of a wider campaign by the BPF to ease pressure on business-owners through business rates reforms because, according to the federation, the charges are all too often disproportionate to both the economy and company turnover.

“The economy’s use of real estate has changed significantly over the past few years, with offices, shops and distribution centres looking very different now to when rates were introduced 25 years ago,” says Ion Fletcher, director of policy (finance) at the BPF. “Yet the business rates system has not adapted to this and is now in danger of doing harm to the economy. We urge the government to take note of our suggestions, as we fear that lack of reform could have damaging consequences for the property industry and economy as a whole.”

The BPF has urged that revaluations of properties be carried out annually, to ensure that ratepayer’s liabilities would always reflect actual rental values. The Federation has also raised the issue of the link between business rates and the Retail Price Index, which it claims unfairly punishes businesses during a recession.

The call to reinstate a six-month empty rates relief, meanwhile, would see property owners relieved from paying business rates when properties do not have a tenant, as was the case prior to 2008. The BPF describes the failure to offer property-owners relief on empty properties is a “tax on failure”, which acts as a deterrent for further redevelopment.


 
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