I followed a link on another thread to a Daily Mail story regarding the demise of Jessops. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262801/Relief-Jessops-employees-stuck-pictures-shop-window-stunt-leads-job-offers-firm-orders-display.html The bit that stood out for me was the reference to shop rents. This has also been much commented on with regard to HMV and Comet. Clearly, subsidy of rents is a complete nonsense. Surely however, it is in the interests of almost everybody that shop rents fall considerably, so helping retailers to survive, employ staff, and keep our high streets active. In very many areas, the proportion of empty shops is staggering. All shops however, will find a tenant if the rent is set at the true maket level; in virtually all cases a lot lower than landlords are asking. The only reason why a shop remains empty is because the rent is too high. Yet landlords seem to prefer to allow empty units rather than offer true market rents, presumably so as to protect the high rents being charged to other tenants nearby in other properties owned by themselves. The abolition of the 50% rebate on business rates for empty retail properties a few years ago was clearly an excellent move by the last government, and the current lot improved the situation further by lowering the threshold at which full rates become payable to a rateable value of £2600 in April 2011. We need to go further. In my view full business rates should be payable on all commercial properties whether they are occupied or empty. The only exception would be the retention of the current system of small business relief. I would abolish completely the 3 month grace period after a tenant's lease expires - the landlord should become liable for the rates immediately. This would put further pressure on commercial landlords to make sure that their premises were fully let. As I said earlier, there is a tenant for every property so long as the price is right. Rents in this country are absurdly high, and unless steps are taken our high streets will die completely as retailers all move out of town or online. If a few landlords go bust in the process then that is simply collateral damage in the cause of the greater good.