The Chancellor yesterday (Monday, 24 November) announced plans to make properties with rateable value of £15,000 or less temporarily exempt from empty property tax for the 2009-10 financial year. 

The Country Land and Business Association, who have been campaigning against the introduction of this tax, has welcomed the decision to help small businesses through the financial crisis with a one-year exemption on empty business property rates.

CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher says: ‘This is what the CLA has been calling for. However, we would urge the Government to make it permanent to provide reassurance and stability on a long-term basis for investors in rural business properties for let, especially those with extended borrowings.’

‘As the Chancellor noted, small and medium businesses are the backbone of the UK’s economy and, in this difficult financial time, they are in need all the help they can get.’

Mr Darling said in his pre-budget report: “To help small firms meet their running costs, I can announce a temporary increase in the threshold for empty property relief. For 2009/10, empty commercial properties with a rateable value below £15,000, will be exempt from business rates. This exemption covers an estimated 70 per cent of all empty properties.”