LONDON Dec 5 Britain will attempt to
re-invigorate its town centres with relief on business rates to
encourage firms to re-occupy vacant properties, finance minister
George Osborne said on Thursday.
In a budget statement to Parliament, Osborne said he would
introduce a "re-occupation relief" that will halve business
rates for new occupants of empty sites.
Business rates are taxes to help pay for local services,
charged on most non-domestic properties, including shops, pubs,
cafes and restaurants.
Osborne said the measure would "get the vacant shops that
blight too many town centres to open again."
Many British towns are still suffering the effects of the
recession that hit the British economy in the wake of the global
According to the Local Data Company, Britain's shop vacancy
rate was 14.1 percent in October.
Osborne also said that over the next two years every retail
premises in England with a rateable value of up to 50,000 pounds
will get a discount on business rates, worth 1,000 pounds.
As had been trailed prior to his statement Osborne capped
the increase of business rates for all premises at 2 percent
from next April. Previously businesses had been expecting rates
to rise by 3.2 percent next year.
He will also allow firms to pay rates in 12 monthly
But Osborne stopped short of a full review of the business
rates system, which retailers and politicians, including
business minister Vince Cable have called for.