Communities Minister, Bob Neill, announced on 13 December 2010 that as of 1 April 2011 the rateable value up to which owners of vacant property can benefit from an exemption from business rates will be dropping from £18,000 per year to £2,600 per year. Funding the exemption currently costs the Government £400 million per year.

The move, and the tax in general, has faced much criticism from within the Government as well as from within the property industry, particularly in light of the Government’s intention for the private sector to lead the economic recovery. Relief will typically currently be claimed in areas that are struggling economically and the effect of this additional cost remains to be seen.

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