Asda has given its backing to a campaign by the British Property Federation (BPF) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) against stealth tax on empty property.

The Government has pressed ahead with the levy, dubbed the “bombsite Britain tax”, which cuts business rate relief on commercial space and came into effect at the start of April.

Until then, empty retail and office space was eligible for a 50 per cent relief from rates.

The change has led to a sharp increase in public and private sector landlords demolishing buildings rather than paying tax.

Asda head of property communications and planning Jonathan Refoy said: “Just as things have become more difficult economically, the Government has imposed an ill-timed tax on empty properties, which has had a number of unintended consequences and can only hinder retailers’ ability to regenerate brownfield sites.”

BRC director-general Stephen Robertson echoed that view. He added: “We’re working with our members and the BPF to highlight to politicians the destructive impact that removing empty property rate relief is having. We urge the Government to reintroduce the relief as soon as possible.”