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What are Business Rates?

Business Rates, also known as National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR), are rates that businesses must pay. These charges are how people who use non-domestic properties contribute to the cost of local services.

Business Rates are charged on most non-domestic properties, such as:

  • shops
  • offices
  • pubs
  • warehouses
  • factories
  • holiday rental homes

The money that is collected is shared between the County Council, the Fire Authority and us, the District Council. As Business Rates revenue, benefits us and the County Council, both organisations aim to work with local businesses to create a good environment for growth. 

Revenue from Business Rates, together with Council Tax, Government support grants and other Government funding, goes towards paying for the services provided by our council and Cambridgeshire County Council.

For more information on Business Rates and how they are spent, read our current Business Rates explanatory notes 2024 leaflet [PDF, 0.2MB] or see the GOV.UK website. 

How are your Business Rates calculated?

We work out your Business Rates by multiplying the rateable value, set by the Valuation Office Agency, by the appropriate multiplier, which Central Government sets each year.

Central Government sets the multipliers from 1 April each year for the whole of England. There are 2 multipliers:

Small Business Non-Domestic Rating multiplier

The small business rate multiplier is a lower figure. It's used for properties where either of the following apply:

  • You are in receipt of small business rate relief
  • The property has a rateable value less than £51,000 (from 1 April 2024 this includes properties occupied by charities and unoccupied properties).

Standard Non-Domestic Rating multiplier 

The standard multiplier is for all properties where the small business multiplier doesn't apply.

The standard multiplier is higher to pay for Small Business Rate Relief, except in the City of London where special arrangements apply. The current multipliers are shown on the front of your bill.

From 1 April 2024 the standard multiplier is 54.6p and the Small Business Rate multiplier is 49.9p

Business Rates Instalments

Payment of Business Rates bills is automatically set to a 10-monthly cycle. However, there are Government regulations in place that allow businesses to make payments to their local authority in 12 monthly instalments.

These instalments can be paid by direct debit. Please complete the direct debit form if you would like to set this up.

If you wish to pay your Business Rates in 12 monthly instalments, please contact us as soon as possible.

Recovery process

If you do not pay an instalment on time, you will be sent a reminder notice. If you pay the outstanding charge on the reminder notice within 7 days your instalments will continue as scheduled.

If you do not comply with the reminder notice a Summons will be issued without further notice and costs will be incurred.

Find out more about recovery action

Valuation and rateable value of your business

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is an agency of HM Revenues & Customs that values all non-domestic properties and draws up/maintains a full list of all rateable values. If Business Rates apply to your non-domestic property, the VOA adds it to the rating list and sets the rateable value. The rateable value broadly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market in line with the set revaluation date.

The rateable value provided by the VOA to work out your Business Rates charge is shown on the front of your bill.

The Valuation Officer may alter the value if circumstances change.

The full list of rateable values is available on the Valuation Office Agency website. If your property is brand new (or newly refurbished) so does not appear in the list, you must report it to the VOA.

Checking and challenging your rateable value

You and certain others who have an interest in the property, for example the owner of the property or an agent acting on your behalf, can check and/or challenge the stated value of your business for free if you believe it is wrong.

On the GOV.UK Business Rates valuation page you can:

  • request changes to property or valuation details if you think they’re wrong
  • view the valuation details of other properties
  • challenge the rateable value of your business (if you are eligible to do so)

You can choose to appoint an agent to carry out this work for you.

Until your check or challenge request is processed, you must pay the full amount shown on your rate demand notice.

If you overpay as a result of your check or challenge request, the overpaid amount will be refunded, and interest may be added to the refund. This only applies if payments have been made strictly in accordance with the regulations for the payment of Non-Domestic Rates.

For information about how to check and/or challenge your valuation, you can contact your local Valuation Office by email, or call 03000 501 501.

Billing authorities can only backdate Business Rates rebates to the date of when changes to the list come into effect.

The Valuation Office Agency will continue to alter rating assessments if new information is presented, which then makes the valuation inaccurate.

Rating advisors

You do not have to be represented in discussions about your rateable value or Business Rates bill.

If you do wish to have representation during these discussions, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) are qualified advisory services that can represent you.

Before you employ a rating advisor, you should make sure they are qualified, and have the appropriate insurance. If necessary, always seek further advice from a registered advisory service before entering any contract.

Find out how to avoid Business Rates scams

Revaluation 2017

For the revaluation that came into effect on 1 April 2017, this date was set as 1 April 2015. The next revaluation comes into effect on 1 April 2023 and will be based on the open market values on 1 April 2021.

Historically, revaluations took place every 5 years; from the new list on 1 April 2023 this will happen every 3 years. In a revaluation, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) gives all non-domestic business properties new rateable values, so local authorities can work out the Business Rates.

The purpose of the revaluation is not to change the amount of money collected in rates nationally, but to make sure that individual rateable values reflect any changes that have taken place in the property market since the last revaluation.

Whilst the 2017 revaluation did not increase the amount of rates collected nationally, over 7 out of 10 ratepayers received a reduction or no change in their bill and some ratepayers saw increases.

Revaluation 2023

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) regularly updates the rateable values of all business and other Non-Domestic properties (properties that are not just private homes) in England and Wales. This is called a revaluation.  

Rateable values are the amount of rent a property could have been let for on a set valuation date. For the 2023 valuation, that date was 1 April 2021.

We use these rateable values to calculate Business Rates bills.

Revaluations are carried out to reflect changes in the property market, which means that Business Rates bills are based on more up-to-date information.

The next revaluation will come into effect on 1 April 2023.

Contacting the Valuation Office Agency

We are responsible for anything to do with your Business Rates bill. The VOA is responsible for the valuation of your property. You will therefore need to contact the VOA for all queries about your rateable value.

Finding your rateable value

You are now able to see the future rateable value for your property and get an estimate of what your 2023/24 Business Rates bill may be. You can do this through the VOA’s Find a Business Rates Valuation Service on GOV.UK.

Your property details need changing

To tell the VOA about changes to your property details (such as floor area sizes and parking) you need a Business Rates Valuation account. The VOA may accept your changes and update the current and future valuations.

Sign in or register for a business rates valuation account

What to do if you think your rateable value is too high

From 1 April 2023, you will need to use a Business Rates Valuation account to tell the VOA you think your rateable value is too high. You must continue to pay your Business Rates as normal until a decision has been made.

Sign in or register for a business rates valuation account ready for 1 April 2023.

How COVID-19 affected future rateable values

The VOA bases most rateable values on an estimate of what it would cost to rent a property for a year, starting on a certain date. For the 2023 valuation, that date was 1 April 2021. This was during the pandemic and the rent information the VOA used reflected this.

Transitional Relief Scheme

If the rateable value of business property changes, the Transitional Relief Scheme can help balance your Business Rates instalments until the charges meet the new value. This scheme is automatically applied by Central Government when the rateable value of your business changes, and to limit increases to bills, both reductions and increases have caps which are also set by the Government.

The change in the amount of Business Rates you pay is limited yearly until the full amount is due (multiply the rateable value by the multiplier). This is shown on your Business Rates bill.

If any changes are made to a property after 1 April 2017, transitional arrangements will not normally apply to the part of a bill that relates to the changes. Changes to your bill as a result of other reasons (such as changes to the amount of small business rate relief) are not covered by the transitional arrangements.

Any changes to your rateable value, as a result of a successful challenge, may result in your reduction not being paid in full due to your business no longer meeting the criteria of the Transitional Relief Scheme.

Contact our Business Rates Team for more information about the transitional arrangements or visit the Business Rates section on the GOV.UK website.

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