ICBA calls for empty property relief

In the submission, which was delivered to the Treasury, the commercial business agents asked for:

Empty property relief to be reinstated during the economic downturn;

Business rates to be made flexible, and for powers to be given to local councils to adjust business rates in a similar way to council tax;

Boost liquidity and free-up commercial lending by high street banks.

Empty property relief

Michael Hare, Chairman of the Institution of Commercial and Business Agents (ICBA), says “ICBA estimates that the absence of empty property relief costs small businesses £115 million a year. The Government made some important steps in the 2008 Pre-Budget report in temporarily raising the threshold of business rates, but more needs to be done to ease the pressure on commercial landlords. ICBA believes that firms are simply demolishing empty buildings in order to avoid paying the extra tax required.”

Business Rates

Mr Hare, who also calls for further action on business rates, says “ICBA also calls for more flexibility on business rates; with current rate increases set at September 2008 levels using the Retail Price Index, before the economy suffered a significant downturn. High street retailers are now facing increased business rates as their profits continue to plummet. The Government must introduce a similar system for business rates to local council tax; which is more flexible and set by local government.”

Boosting liquidity and freeing up commercial lending

Finally, the lack of commercial lending is of great concern to ICBA, and Mr Hare says “The lack of available finance and commercial lending within the economy continues to affect the commercial property market; leading to a freeze in potential business activity. ICBA has spoken with property developers and investors who would be active within the market but for a lack of commercial lending.”

Michael Hare, Chairman of the Institution of Commercial & Business Agents (ICBA), commented: “A buoyant commercial property market is essential for the overall British decline. The lack of empty property relief penalises our members financially, and as many small firms go out of business, our high streets are now becoming virtual ghost towns.”

Mr. Hare concluded: “Without the measures that ICBA is calling for, the typical UK high street will be subject to a period of real and sustained decline.”