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Non-Domestic Rates: Empty Property

Volume 505: debated on Friday 5 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 5 January 2010, Official Report, column 234W, on non-domestic rates: empty property, if he will place in the Library a copy of the representations made by the other groups listed. (314966)

The representations from the:

Association of Convenience Stores;

The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire;

Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce; and

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors,

have been placed in the Library of the House.

My answer of 5 January 2010, Official Report, column 234W incorrectly recorded the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce representation as being two representations, one from the Weymouth Chamber of Commerce and one from the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.

On further investigation, the letter from the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation was in fact from an individual member writing in a private capacity and not a representation from the Institute itself. It has, therefore, not been placed in the Library of the House on data protection grounds.

Our reforms to empty property relief are principled and right for the long-term. They provide a strong incentive on owners to bring empty property back into use, helping to improve access to premises for businesses and so to exert a downward pressure on commercial rents.

However, we provided owners with real help to manage short-term pressures in a difficult property market by exempting all empty properties with rateable values up to £15,000 from business rates in 2009-10.

We have listened to the continued concerns of owners and are extending the temporary measure for a further 12 months—to cover the whole of 2010-11—and we are uprating the threshold to £18,000 in line with the general movement of property values at revaluation.