The Labour Government made changes to the rates charged on empty properties when it introduced the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007. This provided for owners of empty retail and office premises to pay the full business rates after a property was empty for more than three months. For industrial and storage premises the period was six months.
The original legislation contained exemptions whereby certain empty properties would enjoy relief from rates beyond the three/six month period. One of these exemptions was for buildings whose rateable value did not exceed £2,600. To ameliorate the effects of the recession, the Labour Government introduced a temporary measure whereby it raised the threshold for this exemption to £18,000 till 1 April 2011. The Coalition Government has announced that it will not continue the concession beyond 31 March 2011. As from 1 April 2011 the threshold for permanent exemption will revert to £2,800. The British Property Federation has criticised the decision. It, and others such as the British Retail Consortium, have set up a website as part of its campaign to make the government reverse the decision.
You can access the website here