Wednesday, 22 December 2010 16:55

'Unfair' tax will hurt rural economy

Written by  Ruralcity Media
'Unfair' tax will hurt rural economy

RURAL leaders have hit out at the government's refusal to extend business rates relief on empty properties.

The government's shock decision would hit the rural economy hard, said the Country Land and Business Association.

It follows confirmation that the government is to scrap that 100% rate relief for empty properties with a rateable value of up to £18,000.

The move, which will come into force on 1 April 2011, is expected to rake in an extra £400m a year from businesses.

The CLA said small and medium-sized rural businesses made a crucial contribution to the economy.

By refusing to extend business rates relief, the government could encourage demolition rather than investment in the countryside.

The CLA said ministers were unjustified in making landlords pay tax on all empty properties with a rateable value of more than £2,600.

Currently rates are only payable where the rateable value exceeds £18,000 on any empty property. But

CLA south-east regional director Rupert Ashby said: "This is an outrageous tax from the government."

Applying non-domestic rates to empty property was a disincentive to investment for providing and improving rural business premises to let, said Mr Ashby.

"It is more likely to encourage demolition and other actions to make buildings unusable to avoid this unjustifiable tax.

"We must not forget that the supply of rural business space is essential for a business lead economic recovery.

"Penalising landlords in this way is counter productive."

The CLA also wants empty property relief from business rates extended indefinitely to all business premises where broadband is unavailable.

"Rural business premises without broadband do not attract tenants," Mr Ashby said.

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