The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the prime minister to introduce specific measures for small businesses as part of the government’s economic revival package.

In a letter to Downing Street, FSB national chairman John Wright urged Gordon Brown to ensure rate relief was automatically applied to all rate bills handed out by town halls, and to reintroduce empty-property relief.

Currently, firms have to apply for rate relief, leaving much unclaimed. A FSB survey found about £48m goes unclaimed each year in Essex alone.

Wright also called for the “modest reintroduction” of rate relief for empty properties, with rates cut by 50%.

Wright said the FSB supported the abolition of empty- property rate relief, but that a rethink was warranted given current market conditions.

The measures would “go a long way towards safeguarding the small business sector,” he added.