Our Ban Box Shifting Manifesto 

Closing Loopholes & Protecting Communities

Discover a critical issue affecting councils across England in this eye-opening video. Join us as we delve into the urgent necessity of banning Box Shifting and unravel its profound impact on our communities. Uncover the compelling reasons behind this crucial movement and be a part of the solution.

Business rates avoidance costs local councils approximately £250m pa.

Our goal is to effectively ban box shifting to safeguard local councils from suffering a loss of over two thirds of their rates income with each recurring cycle, while also putting an end to the exploitation of the honest majority.


What is box shifting?

Some landlords take advantage of a loophole in the law to obtain rate relief. They put boxes in an empty commercial space – then say the space is occupied for six weeks. The boxes are then removed, and the landlord gets three months’ empty rates relief.

Occupation of commercial property that ends after 6 weeks will trigger eligibility for a 3 (or 6) month rates free period. Unscrupulous landlords and multi chain operators responsible for their closed branches take advantage of this loophole by placing boxes inside an otherwise empty premises, claiming it is occupied for 6 weeks, to benefit from the rates free period thereafter. When the rates free period is over, again placing boxes in the space for a further 6 weeks and repeating the cycle. Hence box shifting. Councils lose over two thirds of their rates income every time this cycle is repeated.

To stop this, we want the Government to replicate what has happened in Wales, and increase the required period of occupation, that activates rates exemption, from 6 weeks to 6 months.

The Rainbow Rising solution

The perfect solution for town centre shop closures.


Want to Help Your Council Save Millions of Pounds? You Can!

Send a message to your local MP or councillor(s) using

Insert your post code and use the automated form – however, please note:

If you copy and paste directly from our proposed messaging, this will be picked up and your message may not be accepted. 

We recommend summarising or using some of the key points we have shared below in your messaging – however, as mentioned, please don’t copy + paste directly.

  • Box shifting is costing councils around £250 million annually.
  • Some property owners and landlords will use novel methods, like fish tanks and snail farms or place other items in the empty property to trigger rates avoidance.
  • England’s Government should extend the occupation period for rates exemption from six weeks to six months (like Scotland and Wales).
  • Ethical rates mitigation allows councils to offer organisations and charities support while also supporting their community.
  • The campaign ‘Ban Box Shifting’, has an Open Letter for Government requesting the matter to be taken seriously.
  • Please contact us if you would like to support the campaign:
Further information

The English Government is currently carrying out an  open consultation on business rates avoidance, exploring the causes of rates avoidance and potential measures to combat this, in order to protect essential funding for local services.

The Welsh Government effectively stopped box shifting in Apr 2022. More information about this in the links below:


Banning box shifting creates new opportunities

Ethical Rates Mitigation

Charities utilise the space and the landlord benefits from a legitimate reduction in business rates. This agreement can be longstanding, and greatly benefits the local community. Legitimate charity use is accepted by business rates departments nationwide and some councils’ in-house Estates teams only use this method to save money and support their community simultaneously.

Warm Spaces

The cost of living crisis and the rising costs of electricity have created the need for warm spaces across the United Kingdom.

The Landlord

A space in use is easier to re-let. Lower security / insurance costs. Also giving back to their local community.

The Charity

Increase awareness. Located in the heart of the community.

The Community

A place to keep warm and enjoy the company of others.

Know of any empty commercial buildings in your area? Let’s transform these spaces into something valuable for our community. Whether impacted by box shifting or not, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We’re actively seeking opportunities to revitalise these locations and bring new life to our neighborhoods.

Contact us

Write to us if you have questions