LAST YEAR, Thurrock Council raked in a record 3.4 million in business rates levied on empty properties according to the Taxpayers Alliance.
In 2011-12, Thurrock brought in £3.481.520. This compares with £2.901.800 in 2010.
This figure compares with Basildon who brought in the highest amount in the East of England with £6.714.821
Relief was traditionally provided to landlords with empty commercial properties, exempting them from Business Rates for the first three months and charging them at 50 per cent thereafter. Empty industrial properties were exempt from all Business Rates.
But at the 2007 Budget it was announced that after a three-month exemption period for non-industrial property, and a six-month exemption period for industrial property, full Business Rates would be payable on all empty commercial and industrial properties. Some relief was offered with all properties under a Rateable Value of £15,000 exempted for the 2009-10 financial year. This window was kept open for the 2010-11 financial year and the threshold was lifted to £18,000.
The economic downturn has made it increasingly difficult to find new tenants quickly. This has led to some landlords choosing to demolish properties rather than pay full rates for long periods of time while seeking new tenants.
A spokesperson for the Taxpayers Alliance said: “It is extremely unfair that property owners are being hit with enormous Business Rates on properties which are empty, with no rent coming in that they can use to pay the bill.
“There are elderly people who invested in a small commercial or industrial unit in the reasonable expectation that the rent would top up their pension. This new tax is ruining them. The rest of us lose out as the mere threat of having to pay rates on empty properties is discouraging people from putting money into new developments or refurbishing existing properties, which is undermining the prospects for economic growth.