§ Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what income was derived from rates on empty properties in the most recent period of 12 months;369W
(2) if he has any plans to introduce regulations to prevent property owners vandalising their own empty properties to avoid the payment of rates;
(3) what proposals he has to reduce the rate liability on empty buildings; and if he will make a statement;
(4) what information he has on the extent of building vandalisation in the City of London to avoid payment of rates.
§ Mr. Robin Squire
[holding answer 26 June 1992]: We have no plans to change the law governing the rating of empty property. Empty property benefits from local services and it is right that it should contribute to the costs incurred by local authorities. Property, whether occupied or not, is rateable if it is capable of beneficial occupation. If owners judge it commercially advantageous to render property unusable, that is a matter for them.
We are aware that five unoccupied properties in the City of London have been made unusable by their owners in order to avoid rates liability. We estimate the loss of rate yield at about £3 million. This has to be set against an estimated total rate income in England from empty property in 1992–93 of some £600 million.
We are already providing £1.25 billion of help to businesses over the next three years under the Non-Domestic Rating Act 1992.