Ghost town Britain

Boarded-up shops could become a reality on most high streets, as a report by credit reference agency Experian estimates 140,000 shops will become vacant by the end of the year.


Boarded-up shops could become a reality on most high streets, as a report by credit reference agency Experian estimates 140,000 shops will become vacant by the end of the year.

Boarded-up shops could become a reality on most high streets, as a report by credit reference agency Experian estimates 140,000 shops will become vacant by the end of the year.

Jane Milne, business director at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), says: ‘Property is one of retailers’ major costs and it has spiralled out of control as landlords and the government cashed in on competition for prime sites during the boom times.

‘A haemorrhaging of retail jobs and local services is now evident in many communities. Urgent action is needed by landlords and the government – boarded-up shops help no-one.’

The BRC is calling for rates to fall in line with market conditions, a freeze on business rates and the restoration of empty property rate relief.

Empty property rate relief was abolished in April last year and means that businesses have to pay full rates on empty buildings.

In the 2008 Pre-Budget Report, the government introduced a temporary increase in the threshold at which empty property becomes liable for business rates. However, the BRC claims the scrapping of the relief will still cost retailers £115 million a year.

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