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Empty Property Rates Top Bill House Commons Reception

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Business Centre Association (BCA) hosted a House of Commons reception yesterday (28/10/09), urging cross-party MPs to retain the £15,000 Rateable Value (RV) threshold on Empty Property Rates.

The event was held in advance of the Chancellors pre-budget report, to enable the BCA, the UK's only trade organisation representing the flexible space sector, to lobby more than 50 MPs.

Jennifer Brooke, executive director of the BCA comments, "Yesterday's House of Commons reception enabled the BCA to inform MPs that a change to the £15,000RV in the Chancellor's pre-budget report would threaten the survival of many small businesses.

"MP's now recognise the harsh impact that this tax has had on the economy in their constituencies. It is imperative that they support the reduction of Empty Property Rates tax to sustain job security and employment opportunites within their locality as well as safeguarding the investment in the commercial property market."

The BCA has lobbied against the change to the empty property rates legislation since its introduction in 2008, arguing that it is a tax on hardship and has had a negative impact on regeneration, stopping many speculative developments, including those in regeneration and rural areas.

Yesterday's reception is the second year in which the BCA has actively lobbied against the legislation. Last year the BCA was successful in persuading the government to increase the threshold for one year from £2,200 RV to £15,000 RV.

Speaking at the event, Mr Phil Wilson MP commented: "The flexible space sector supports the growth of small and medium sized enterprises in this country, as well as maintaining the development and diversification of local economies.

"I worked closely with the BCA last year to ensure that the rateable value was maintained, and although this was seen by many as a temporary measure, I will be pressing that the £15,000 RV be written into the statute books or at the least maintained for another year.

"I will be speaking with Treasury Ministers to highlight that the current rateable value of £15,000 RV must be retained and written into the Chancellor's pre-budget report."

Tom Stokes, managing director of Evans Easyspace and the immediate past chair of the BCA, also argued yesterday that the current threshold on empty property rates must be retained in the next pre-budget report, if not on a permanent basis.

Stokes said: "If we see the threshold of empty property rates amended next April, I believe it will stymie the much-needed regeneration of many of the UK's key urban centres; which will in turn have grave long-term implications on the wider economy.

"In terms of the flexible space market, empty property rates have thwarted the growth of the sector as many larger office space providers are now extremely cautious in expanding their current facilities or moving into different markets due to the potential tax implications. 

"I believe that many of the MPs who we spoke to at today's reception will now lobby the Treasury to maintain the current threshold of empty property rates in next pre-budget report. The many MPs who attended the reception fully appreciate the need to protect the local businesses and employment in their constituency, as well as the flexible space providers they represent."

The CBI has also supported the BCA reception, with Matthew Farrow, head of energy, transport and planning at the CBI stating before the reception: "The deepest recession for many years has been the worst time to drastically scale back empty property rate relief.  The Government should consider restoring the full relief, but at the very least it must maintain the threshold allowing properties under £15,000 to obtain relief."



Notes to Editor:


BCA information


The BCA is the only UK trade association representing the business centre and managed workspace industry. Established in 1989, it specialises in providing support and guidance to owners and operators of centres, while setting industry standards and encouraging a network of excellence.


The BCA also provides an invaluable advice and location finder service for potential users of business centres and managed workspace with more than 800 member locations and 500,000 workstations, incorporating 40m sq ft of managed office space around the UK, ranging from small independent to large international operators, both in city centre and out of town business park locations, the Association is guaranteed to find the perfect workspace for your business.