Nick Brown, the Labour party’s chief whip has called for the north-east to be exempted from the much disputed Empty Property Rates (EPR) tax.
“Although it [EPR] may be appropriate in London and the south-east, there are different circumstances in the north-east, and I do think the government could look at granting relief in the old industrial areas like we have here,” the Times reported him saying.
Owners of commercial property have been incensed at a law which leaves them paying for property even when it is empty.
The British Property Foundation has said politicians have “fundamental misunderstandings of how business works”.
It chief executive Liz Peace said recently: “You can’t tax something earning no money and expect that to conjure up tenants when demand is falling through the floor.”
“No one’s asking for handouts, just a reality check. We must stop this empty rates madness.”
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson disagreed: “I don’t think now is the time to bring back the business rate relief on empty properties,” he said, “as I believe this can benefit small businesses”.