Business Rates - Fiddled Figures (January 22nd 2009)
North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has today (Thursday 22nd January) accused the Government of using "fiddled figures" to justify its claim that, in the coming financial year, 70% of void commercial and retail premises will be exempt from the 100% Business Rate levy introduced on April 1st last year.
Speaking at Westminster this morning, the MP who, with South Thanet's Laura Sandys, has been driving the campaign to abolish the rates on empty properties at least for the duration of the recession, has said:
"The imposition of 100% business rates on empty properties was a government policy based upon recommendations made in a wholly different economic climate and quite unsuited to harsh conditions in the real business world today. Under pressure the Chancellor agreed to some relief - although by the time the benefits are felt it may be too late for some small companies and owners already at tipping point.
We now find, however, that the Government's claim that "70% of empty properties will be exempt" includes, incredibly, Bus Shelters and ATM machines. I do not believe that most people, even in their wildest moments, would class bus shelters - even those carrying advertising - and ATMs as "business premises" and I think that this shows once again how desperate the Government has become in its efforts to "spin" the reality".