Published on 11th January 2011

Ministers have announced that an exemption allowing the owners of some commercial properties to avoid paying business rates on vacant buildings is to be withdrawn.

At present, businesses with empty property that has a rateable value of less than £18,000 are spared having to pay business rates on those properties.

But in a written ministerial statement in December, local government minister Bob Neill said that from 1 April the threshold would revert to £2,600.

The levy on vacant properties, which was introduced by the Labour government in 2008, was intended to encourage owners of empty properties to bring empty buildings back into use.

The coalition Government has however estimated that it would cost £400 million to continue with the business rate relief and that the high costs involved meant that any further help in the short term would be unaffordable.