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Empty property rate relief to be cut

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Businesses are to see a marked reduction in empty property rate relief.

At the moment, properties with a rateable value of less than £18,000 per year are exempt from the empty rates charge which applies to buildings that have been unoccupied for more than three months.

However, the government is to reduce the exemption threshold to just £2,600 as from next April.

The measure is expected to raise £400 million in public revenues.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “If government is pinning its hopes on a private sector led economic recovery then this is a damaging and retrograde step.

“Empty rates is a tax on hardship at the worst possible time. The majority of the properties affected by the announcement will be in areas that are already economically disadvantaged, and so this will be a further blow.”

The announcement was made by Bob Neill, the Local Government Minister, in a written ministerial statement.