The FSB is concerned that small firms with empty properties could pay thousands extra in rates with changes to the exemption from paying empty property rates due to come into force from April.
The exemption, introduced in 2009, meant that businesses with an empty property in England with a rateable value below £18,000 did not have to pay business rates. The Government plans to cut this threshold from £18,000 to just £2,600, placing a very significant burden on many small firms that are struggling in the current economic climate.
Just as alarming is the fact that the Government will not re-introduce a 50 per cent relief and that small firms will not be able to claim Small Business Rate Relief on the property.
This means that struggling business owners who have had to vacate a property and cannot rent or sell it will have to pay more in rates than if they were running a company from the property.
The FSB has written to local government minister, Bob Neill MP, to express its concerns that this move could put some small firms out of business. If the threshold is going to be cut then the FSB calls for a return to the pre-April 2008 situation of granting 50 per cent relief or at the very least, allow a business to claim Small Business Rate Relief on their empty property.
Roger Culcheth, Local Government Policy Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“The Government has said that small businesses have a vital role in driving economic growth and getting the recovery on a firm footing, yet for some businesses this additional tax could tip the balance and force them into insolvency.
“The result of this cut in the threshold without restoring the 50 per cent relief will make small business owners worse off than they were prior the 2009 change and significantly more so then they were in 2009 and 2010. We urge the Government to look closely at this matter and, at the very least, allow the business to claim Small Business Rate Relief.”