Empty shops and other businesses in Gedling borough have cost the taxpayer more than £2m over the last five years, it has been revealed.
Landlords of empty shops, offices and warehouses in the borough do not have to pay business rates for three months to allow them to invest in their property investment and also time to find a new occupant.
But calls have been made to change the business rates system to help traders and enable councils to have a steady income stream.
Gedling Borough Council lost £412,558 in 2018/19, £465,701 in 2017/18, £412,180 in 2016/17, £466,546 in 2015/16 and £443,769 in 2014/15.
Deputy Leader of Gedling Borough Council, Councillor Michael Payne said: “There are over 2,500 business properties in the borough. From time to time, a small number of these properties will receive exemption from business rates while they are empty.
“We continually monitor empty properties through regular inspections and by keeping business rates records up to date and processing changes effectively.
“We have made it a council priority to invest in local businesses and create thriving and vibrant town centres. We offer two hour free parking, making it easier for residents to support local high streets, we have invested in revitalising Carlton and Arnold Town Centre and we continue to work with business partnerships to offer advice to small and medium businesses with the overall aim of driving business growth in the borough.
He added: “The Government need to urgently review the way business rates are set. Businesses should benefit from being on the high street not punished. There needs to be a fairer distribution of rates and councils should be able to retain more of the rates they work very hard to collect.
“If the Government want to help the high street then they should make a fairer distribution of the New Towns Fund and invest in Arnold and Carlton and not just a select few Conservative controlled towns.”
Dr Kevin Muldoon-Smith from Northumbria University, said that Business rates, along with council tax, will be very critical to the stability of local authority finances going forward because of central government grants being reduced.
He said: “Unfortunately, we have this perverse situation where local government needs tax to go up and the business community are lobbying very hard for it to go down.”
“But if you look at the property market, the relationship between business and bricks and mortar is changing. There’s a good chance that pool of income will start to reduce – at the very least it will be different.”