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News - 5 September 2013
If it's been empty long enough it could qualify for rate reduction

Council proposes new discount to help local businesses

The Empty Property Occupation Discount would benefit businesses moving into premises that have been empty for a significant period of time and help them become established by reducing the business rates payable.

The scheme is being proposed at next week’s Policy & Resources Committee and, if agreed, will be available from 1 October.

Under nationally-applied rules business rates have to be paid in full while a property remains empty. The new local rate would provide a discount for six months once the ratepayer occupies the property.

To qualify for the Empty Property Occupation Discount, the premises must have been empty for at least six months. To effectively exclude multi-national companies and make sure the discount goes to smaller businesses, new occupiers already liable for eight or more commercial properties in the city will not be eligible for the relief.

Discounts would be based on simple criteria using the rateable value of a property and be weighted to provide more help to small and medium-sized businesses.

Those with a rateable value of under £6,000, already receive 100% discount in business rates under the current national Small Business Rate Relief scheme, but the local proposals would extend discounts to more businesses. These include businesses receiving a lesser amount of relief because their rateable value is between £6,000 and £12,000 as they could qualify for six months of zero business rates once they occupy an empty property. Slightly larger businesses could qualify for a 50% discount if their rateable value is under £35,000.

In August Brighton & Hove had 506 empty properties that could qualify for the discount. Potentially the discount would be available for 86% of properties, should any of these become empty long-term, as only a small proportion have a rateable value of over £35,000.

The new rate relief would be available until 31 March 2015 and reviewed after six months.

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