Business rates - reductions

Business owners may be eligible for reductions in their business rates. Types of reduction: 

  • Transitional relief
  • Empty property relief
  • Charity and discretionary rate relief
  • Rural rate relief
  • Hardship relief
  • Small business rate relief

Application forms and guidance

Transitional relief

If you are entitled to transitional relief or are subject to transitional surcharge the amount will be worked out automatically and shown on your bill.

Transitional arrangements phase in the effect of significant changes in liability which have arisen from the 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2017 revaluations.

The new valuation list will come into force with effect from 1 April 2017.

Hardship relief

We can apply this if the ratepayer would suffer hardship if no rate reduction was made, and if it would be in the interest taxpayers.

We are consulting on amending the assessment criteria for this relief. 

Charitable and discretionary relief

Charities are entitled to mandatory relief from rates on any non-domestic property, which is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.

A community amateur sports club which is registered under the community amateur sports club scheme with the Inland Revenue is also entitled to mandatory relief.

Relief is given at 80% of the full rate bill or of the transitional bill where the transitional arrangements apply.

We have discretion to remit all or part of the remaining 20% of a charity's bill on such property. They also have the discretion to remit all or part of any rate bill in respect of property occupied by certain bodies not established or conducted for profit.

We are reviewing the criteria under which discretionary claims are assessed. Proposed amendments to the scheme will be subject to consultation with stakeholders.

Application forms and guidance

Additional discretionary relief with effect from 1 April 2017

Local newspapers: The Government will introduce a £1500 business rate discount for office space occupied by local newspapers, up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits, for 2 years from 1 April 2017.

Future discretionary relief with effect from 1 April 2018

Public toilets: The Government intends to introduce the necessary legislation to enable local authorities to use their existing discretionary relief powers to support publicly owned public toilets from 1 April 2018.

To make a claim for charitable or discretionary relief please download an application form which should be completed and returned to the local taxation office. 

Application forms and guidance

Rate relief for businesses in rural areas

At present the occupier of a general store or post office in a settlement appearing in the billing authority's rural settlement list is entitled to 50% Mandatory Rate Relief if it is:

  • The sole shop, general store or post office in that settlement and its rateable value is £8,500 or less in the 2010 rating list;
  • The only garage or public house and its value is £12,500 or less in the 2010 rating list;

We have discretion to remit all or part of the rate bills on other property in a settlement on the rural settlement list if the ratable value is £16,500 or less and we are satisfied that the property is used for a purpose which benefits the local community.

The values quoted have applied from 01 April 2010. For details of the values prior to that date or for further information and application forms please contact the local taxation office.  Download and return the forms.

Application forms and guidance

Changes to rural rate relief with effect from 1 April 2017

With effect from 1 April 2017 we will be required to grant 100% mandatory rate relief to qualifying properties. The relevant primary legislation has not as yet been amended. If you wish to discuss this change please contact the business rates team on 01723 232380.

Unoccupied properties

Non Domestic properties which are unoccupied may be liable to empty property rates. Rates are charged at 100% of the full rate bill or of the transitional bill where the transitional arrangements apply.

Liability begins after the property has been empty for 3 months ( or 6 months for industrial premises). Certain types of property are exempt from empty property rates.

The Properties that are exempt from empty property rates are:

  • Property unoccupied for a period of less than three months, or six months in the case of industrial property;
  • Property where the law prohibits occupation;
  • Property that is kept vacant by reason of action taken by the Crown, or any Local authority or public body;
  • Listed Buildings;
  • Ancient Monuments;
  • Property with a Ratable Value less than £2,600
  • Property for which the person entitled to possession does so as a personal representative of a deceased person, a liquidator or trustee or where the owner is subject to bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Empty properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs.

Further information on exemptions and empty property rating can be obtained from the local taxation office.

Retail relief

There will be up to a £1,000 discount for occupied shops, pubs and restaurants (excluding banks and building societies) with a rateable value of £50,000 or less in each of the years 2014-15 and 2015-16, up to state aid limits. New properties brought into the Rating List retrospectively may still be entitled to this discount.

New occupation of previously empty property relief

New occupiers of former retail premises which have been unoccupied for a year or more will receive a 50% discount for 18 months if they move into the premises between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016. State Aid limits apply to awards of this relief.

Empty property rate relief for new builds

From October 2013 the Government introduced a new temporary measure for unoccupied new build properties. Unoccupied newly built properties will now be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months where the property comes onto the list between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016.

The 18 month period includes the initial 3 or 6 month exemption, so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from rates for up to an extra 15 or 12 months.

Forms and guidance