Business Rates Reliefs and Exemptions

Non-Domestic Rates or Business Rates collected by local authorities are taxes to help pay for local services. They are charged on most non-domestic properties.

If you pay business rates, your property may be eligible for a business rate relief.

Some reliefs are Mandatory (which means the local authority is required by law to apply them, providing the qualifying criteria are satisfied).

Others are Discretionary (meaning they are applied using the local authorities’ discretion and their internal policies/guidance).

You have to apply for some types of relief, such as:

  • Small business rate relief
  • rural rate relief
  • charitable rate relief
  • enterprise zone relief
  • hardship relief

Some reliefs are automatically applied including:

  • Exempt buildings
  • transitional relief
  • pub relief

All the reliefs are subject to current legislation and may change in light of new Government decisions.

Call us on 01954 713 112 or 713 409 or email if you think that you qualify for Small Busines Rate Relief.

More information on eligibility criteria, amounts, timescales and how to apply for each relief, can be found below: 

Eligibility Criteria with effect from 1st April 2017:

  • Businesses who occupy one property in England which has a rateable value of less than £15,000
  • businesses who occupy one main property in England with a rateable value of less than £15,000 and other additional properties provided that those properties have rateable values of less than £2,900  with the total rateable value of all properties being under £20,000
  • businesses occupying only one property in England where the rateable value is above £14,999 but below £51,000 are not entitled to relief but the small business rate multiplier will automatically be used to calculate their liability
  • ratepayers can only claim relief in respect of one property
  • ratepayers can only claim relief in respect of an occupied property
  • ratepayers must meet the criteria on every chargeable day for which they claim relief

The Small Business Rates multiplier for 2017/18 is 46.6p.

Properties with a rateable value between £12,000 and £14,999 are entitled to relief which is on a sliding scale. The relief reduces by 1% for every £30 Rateable Value from 100% at £12,000 to 0% at £15,000.

With effect from the 14th February 2014, businesses that take on an additional property which would normally have meant the loss of Small Business Rate Relief (SBR), will be allowed to keep the relief for a period of 12 months from the date of the change. The combined Rateable Value limit of £20,000 still applies.

If you are in receipt of SBR and a rateable value increases to more than £14,499 as a result of Rating List amendment, then the small business rate relief is cancelled from the date of the change.

Current relief scheme runs till the end of the current rating period - 31st March 2021

Applying for Small Business Rate Relief

Please contact us for an application form if you think that you qualify for this relief.

Call us on 01954 713112 / 713409 or email

We are able to consider backdated applications although these may, in some cases, be limited by legislation. 

Changes in Circumstances

If you qualify for and have been awarded Small Business Rate Relief, certain changes in circumstances must be notified to the Council. The changes which must be notified are:

  • The ratepayer takes up occupation of an additional property (relief will continue for 12 months after taking on an additional property which has a Rateable Value within existing relief criteria).
  • An increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the Council which granted the relief.

Registered Charities are entitled to relief from rates on any non-domestic property that is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. Relief is given at 80% of the bill.

Local councils have discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill.

Authorities also have discretion to give relief on all or part of any rate bill for property occupied by certain non-profit making bodies. They can also consider giving rate relief in cases of hardship or where part of a property is beyond use for a certain period.

You can download and read our Discretionary Business Rate Relief Policy July 2018 here.


Property that has been empty for more than three months, or in the case of industrial property, for more than six months, no longer receives relief from Business Rates.

Commercial property such as shops and offices are exempt from rates for up to 3 months if empty. After 3 months if they remain empty they are subject to 100% charge.

Industrial premises i.e warehouses, factories and stores are exempt for up to 6 months if empty and they are then subject to 100% charge.

From 01/04/2017, properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900 are not subject to an empty rate charge.
This means that empty non domestic properties with a rateable value of £2,900 and above will be liable to a 100% charge after the empty period applicable to the type of property involved - see above.

Property held by a charity or a community amateur sports club are not subject to an empty rate charge if when next in use the property continues to be occupied by a charity or community amateur sports club.

Listed Buildings are not subject to an empty rate charge.

A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied.

Where a property is partly occupied for a short period of time, the local authority has discretion in certain limited cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part.

Full details can be obtained from the Business Rates team.

There are details on s44a relief in our discretionary policy too.

Registered community amateur sports clubs (CASCs) can receive 80% rate relief.

To qualify as a CASC, a sports club MUST:

  • be open to the whole community;
  • be run as an amateur club;
  • be a non-profit-making organisation
  • aim to provide facilities for, and encourage people to take part in, eligible sport.

If you are a sports club which has not yet registered as a CASC and are interested in the registration process, please visit the Inland Revenue Sports club site

or call the Inland Revenue Sports Clubs Unit on 0300 123 1073.

Certain types of properties in a rural settlement with a population below 3,000 may be entitled to relief.

The property must be the only general store, the only post office or a food shop* with a rateable value of less than £8,500, or be the only public house or the only petrol station and have a rateable value of less than £12,500.
The property has to be occupied. 

An eligible ratepayer is entitled to relief at 50% of the full charge whilst the local council also has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill.

The 2016 Autumn Statement confirmed the doubling of rural rate relief from 50% to 100% from 1st April 2017. Local councils will be expected to use their local discount powers to grant 100% rural rate relief to eligible ratepayers from 1st April 2017. 

The local council may decide to give up to 100% relief to any other business in such rural village, with a rateable value of up to £16,500, if it is satisfied that the business is of benefit to the community and having regard to the interests of its council taxpayers.

View our District's Designated Rural Settlements list 2018 here.

*'food shop' means a trade or business consisting wholly or mainly for the sale by retail of food for human consumption excluding confectionery and catering - in this context catering means any supply of food for consumption on the premises on which it is supplied and any supply of hot food for consumption off the premises.

At Spring Budget 2017, the Chancellor announced a £1,000 business rate discount for public houses with a rateable value of up to 100,000.

The relief is for one year from 1 April 2017 and will end on 31 March 2019.

Who qualifies for the public houses relief?

To be eligible for this relief the pub should:

  • be open to the general public
  • allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided
  • allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed
  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar

For the purpose of this relief, pubs are not any of the following:

  • Restaurants
  • cafes
  • nightclubs
  • hotels
  • snack bars
  • guesthouses
  • boarding houses
  • sporting venues
  • music venues
  • festival sites
  • theatres
  • museums
  • exhibition halls
  • cinemas
  • concert halls and casino

Please contact the Business rates team at if you feel you meet the criteria and have yet to receive an application form.

The Government is providing funding to local councils so that they can provide a discount worth up to £1,500 a year for 2 years from 1st April 2017, to office space occupied by local newspapers.

This is up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits.

The relief will be delivered through local authority discretionary discount powers (under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988) Eligibility criteria for this relief is set out in a guidance note: "The case for business rates relief for local newspapers", which can be obtained at

You can download and read our Discretionary Business Rate Relief Policy July 2018 document here.

In the Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government would establish a £300m discretionary fund over four years from 2017/18 to support those businesses that face the steepest increases in their business rates bills as a result of the revaluation.

The total amount of funding to be allocated to our ratepayers is £894,000 over four years, in the following proportions:

  • 2017/18 - £495,000
  • 2018/19 - £241,000
  • 2019/20 - £99,000
  • 2020/21 - £14,000

In what circumstances might relief be awarded?

Ratepayers are invited to apply for relief where they have experienced an increase in RV due to revaluation, subject to the following criteria:

  • The ratepayer must have had a rates liability on or before 31st March 2017
  • The property RV, or a combined total of all property RVs in the district, must be less than £200,000
  • The 2017/18 charge must have increased by more than 10% due to revaluation.

Relief will generally not be awarded in the following circumstances:

  • National chains, groups, franchises, multi-nationals or any business operating over more than 5 hereditaments
  • those already in receipt of mandatory or discretionary rate relief
  • empty properties, unless exceptional circumstances apply
  • state funded organisations such as schools, hospitals et.

Ratepayers that find themselves in hardship due to Revaluation but do not meet the criteria, may still be able to apply for some additional support.

An allocation of £50,000 has been put aside in 2017/18 for this purpose.

Any applications for this relief must be able to demonstrate the negative impact of revaluation, any applications would be considered on a case by case basis.

Amount of award

The amount awarded will depend on the individual circumstances. However as a guide, the following principles will apply:

A) Where the 2017/18 net rates increase is between 10 - 20% compared to the previous year, the total amount awarded will not normally exceed 5% of the net charge.

B) Where the 2017/18 net rates increase is greater than 20% compared to the previous year, the total amount awarded will not normally exceed 10% of the net charge.

The relief is subject to the State Aid De Minimis levels and a signed declaration will be required on all applications.

How will a decision be made?

Every application will be considered on its merits and will need to be submitted in writing using the Council's application form.

All decisions for Revaluation Relief and Revaluation Hardship Relief will be made by the Finance and Staffing Portfolio Holder.

In the Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced a new relief scheme would be made available to those ratepayers facing large increases as a result of the loss of small business rate relief or rural rate relief.

The transitional relief scheme does not alter in light of changes in relief. As such, ratepayers losing some or all of their small business rate relief or rural rate relief may have large increases in their April 2017 bills.

Supporting small businesses relief has been introduced to assist those ratepayers who, after revaluation, find they have lost some or all of their small business or rural rate relief and have a large increase on their bill.

To support these ratepayers, the supporting small businesses relief will ensure that the increase per year is limited to the greater of:

  • A cash value of £600 per year (£50 per month). This cash increase ensures that ratepayers who for the 2016/17 liability period either paid nothing or very small amounts, are brought into paying something,


  • the matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme.

We have already applied this relief to those that meet the criteria, in line with Government guidelines.

If you feel that you qualify for this relief but it is not showing on your bill, please contact the Business Rates Team.

The award of Discretionary Relief is considered likely to amount to state aid.

However it will be state aid compliant where it is provided in accordance with the De Minimis Regulations EC 1407 / 2013.

The De Minimis Regulations allow an undertaking to receive up to 200,000 Euros over a rolling three year period.

If you are receiving, or have received, any 'de minimis' aid granted during the current or two previous financial years (from any source), you should inform the council immediately with details of the aid received.

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