Release Date: 20 November 2008
Release ID: 152
The British International Freight Association (BIFA) – www.bifa.org - is throwing its weight behind calls to reinstate empty property rates relief.
The trade association for UK freight forwarders says that the UK Government must re-consider the loss of local authority business rate concessions that have impacted its members in an unintended and potentially financially crippling manner.
From April 1st 2008, empty warehousing became liable for normal business rates after six months of being unoccupied. Offices started clocking up business rates after just three months of being unoccupied. Warehouses, which were empty at the time of the rule change, are now liable to business rates that can often run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
BIFA members are natural owners and users of warehousing in order to receive and store clients’ cargoes. Peaks and troughs in supply chain activities mean that this warehousing can sometimes lie empty for periods between peak flows.
Already, there are many reports that some industrial landlords are demolishing significant warehousing capacity that, given the current economic disturbances, is lying empty with little chance of being used in the immediate term. The permanent removal of this capacity means there could be significant storage shortages when the upturn comes.
Peter Quantrill, Director General of BIFA, said: “We understand the Government’s ambition to increase churn in the property market by persuading property owners or landlords to off-load empty properties to new buyers and tenants. However, this move has backfired, as there are few buyers for these premises in the current economic climate.
“There has to be a re-think on the removal of rate relief on empty industrial property. I hope that the growing rebellion by MPs over the tax will force the government into a u-turn on this ill-thought out rule change. It is vital that the government uses the pre-Budget report to introduce some element of relief and send a clear message that it wants to support, not hinder, recovery.”
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