Chamber raises stakes in battle against empty property rates

The last government introduced the imposition to prevent speculators sitting on capital appreciation in boom times, without any intent to let their properties ‘work’ for either industry or the communities.

Now the Chamber is lobbying government and seeking examples from Lancashire businesses who have suffered as a result of the Rates.

Chief executive Mike Damms said: “We have reports of over a dozen historic mills, close to a million sq ft, being taken out of circulation in the last year alone; no owner or developer is going to sit on that kind of space, take the risk and face the liability.

“The effect has been to take affordable premises out of the market, and as no new industrial premises are being built, where is the growth that we all talk about to be based?

“Furthermore, we don’t believe that the maths stack-up. The Government of the day said that by introducing this they would raise £4bn. From the outset it has been argued that £2.6bn of this comes from empty public-sector buildings. There is then the loss of future rates, the reduction of tax on profits of companies and individuals who have to pay the tax, and the stunting of enterprise.

“There is also the irony that Government has included property in its drive to persuade people to provide themselves with proper pensions – you can put property in to a SIPP. However, when that property becomes a handicap your pension goes down.

“We have written to Vince Cable at BIS and been given an excellent hearing by Gordon Birtwistle who has promised to raise our concerns.

“What we need at this stage however is more specific evidence of industrial and commercial property capacity that has been, or is about to be lost, as a direct consequence of EPBR. Or indeed any other way in which this pernicious tax is damaging to individuals or companies.

“The Coalition is unlikely to cancel Empty Property Rates unless we can provide evidence that doing so would not divert them from reducing the deficit.”

To help with the campaign, send details to m.damms@chamberelancs.co.uk or call him on 01254 356400.