Property owners liability for business rates on empty properties changed in 2008; previously limited to 50 per cent of the rates bill, the cap was increased to 100 per cent of the rates bill. A huge problem and expense for anyone with unlet property.
The 'saving grace', if it can be called that, was the exemption from having to pay for the first three months of the property being vacant.
With the economic situation deteriorating, the previous government raised the relief threshold from £2,200 to £1,500 in 2009. The relief was extended for another year and raised again in 2010 to £18,000.
It's now become apparent that whilst the Coalition notes the problem of empty properties and rising rates liabilities it considers the cost of aid to be too great. Thus from 1 April 2011, the empty property rates threshold will drop to £2,600.
It's no April Fool's Joke.