You do not have to pay rates for the first three months that a property is empty, or for the first six months where the property counts as a qualifying industrial premises.
- If the property has a rateable value under £2,899 or the property is listed or the property is classified as land then an exemption can be applied for as long as the property is empty
- If the property has a rateable value of over £2,899 and is an industrial property then a six month period of exemption can be applied
- If the property is over £2,899 and is not industrial then there is a period of three months exemption
In all cases the exemption applies to the property. To start a new exempt period, the property must be occupied continuously for six weeks before becoming empty again.
You cannot get a further exempt period if there is a change in ownership, leaseholder or tenant.
Business rates reliefs
There are a number of different types of business rate reliefs available. The types of reliefs available can change from year to year.
If you apply for rate relief, you must keep paying the amount shown on your original business rates bill until we confirm any reduction by sending you a revised bill.
Some types of reliefs are mandatory, some are discretionary, and some have both a mandatory and a discretionary element. The cost of reliefs is shared between central government and the Council.
Small business rates relief
Small business rate relief is a discount for small businesses and other organisations based on certain criteria.
You are not entitled to small business rate relief if any of the following apply:
- the property is empty
- you can get mandatory charity rate relief
- you can get mandatory rural rate relief
Small business rate relief based on the rateable value of the property in relation to lower and upper threshold figures set by central government.
The lower threshold is £12,000 and the upper threshold is £15,000.
To receive small business rate relief, either of the following must apply:
- you occupy a single property with a rateable value of up to the upper threshold
- you occupy one property with a rateable value up to the upper threshold and other properties that each have a rateable value below £2,900 and the total rateable value of all properties is below £20,000.
- the relief is 100 per cent for properties with a rateable value under £11,999. For those properties with a rateable value are between £12,000 and £14,999 there is a tapering of the relief and the discount ranges from 100% at £12,000 to zero at £14,999.
- For properties with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £50,999 then the multiplier applied in calculating the rates payable is changed from 50.4p to 49.1p.
You can only get small business rate relief for the main property.
If you take on another property that means your business no longer meets these conditions, you can still keep getting small business rate relief for another year.
To apply for the relief or to discuss your eligibility for the relief please contact the Business Rates section on (01482) 394748.
Charities, not for profit organisations and community amateur sports club relief
Charities and registered community amateur sports clubs are entitled to 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity or the club, and is wholly or mainly used for the charitable purposes of the charity (or of that and other charities), or for the purposes of the club (or of that and other clubs).
A registered charity can receive 80% mandatory relief, they can also apply for an extra discretionary relief of up to 20%.
A not for profit organisation can apply for discretionary relief. The types of organisations that can benefit from this relief includes groups whose main objectives are charitable, religious, or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or fine arts. Sports and social clubs can also claim.
Community amateur sports clubs (CASCs) can also apply for 80% mandatory relief if they are registered as a CASC with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. They can also apply for an extra discretionary relief of up to 20%.
If you wish to apply for any of the above reliefs please contact the business rates section on 01482 394748.
Relief for local newspapers
Office space that is occupied by local newspapers can receive business rate relief of £1,500 for the financial year. This was initially due to run for two years from 1 April 2017 but was extended by the Government for an additional year (2019/20).
If you wish to apply for the above relief please contact the business rates section on 01482 394748.
In the Autumn Budget 2018 the Government announced a new relief scheme for retail properties that have a rateable value of below £51,000. Under the scheme, eligible ratepayers will receive a one third discount off their daily chargeable amount. The discount will have effect for 2019-20 and 2020-21. State aid rules will apply to the retail discount in the normal way.
To be eligible for this discount, the retail premises must
- be occupied
- have a rateable value of less than £51,000
- be wholly or mainly used as shops, including post offices, car showrooms, car hire, opticians, petrol stations, restaurants and cafes, including takeaways and drinking establishments
Premises being used for the following will not be eligible for the discount:-
- financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
- other services (e.g. estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies)
- medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
- professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors)
- post office sorting offices
- nightclubs and music venues
- cinemas, theatres and museums
- gyms and premises used for sporting activities
- properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public
This relief has been awarded to eligible businesses, but if you have not received it and think you are eligible, please contact the business rates section on 01482 394748.
Rural rate relief
Rural rate relief is open to any businesses who fall within a designated rural settlement. They can apply for a mandatory 100 per cent relief if they meet one of the criteria below:
- Sole post office or general store (selling household goods and food for human consumption that isn't mostly sweets), where the rateable value is less than £8,500
- Sole pub where rateable value is less than £12,500
- Sole petrol station - on an A road and where the rateable value is less than £12,500
- Sole petrol station - not on an A road, and where the rateable value is less than £12,500
- Food shop where the main business is the sale of food for human consumption and where the rateable value is less than £8,500. Not catering businesses or shops selling mostly sweets
- Business of benefit to the community and where the rateable value is less than £16,500
Since 1 April 2017 the Government introduced a scheme to enable councils to double the amount of rural rate relief from 50% to 100%, which the Council implemented. This will continue for the 2019-20 financial year so eligible businesses will receive 100% relief from their business rates.
Supporting small business
This scheme was implemented on 1 April 2017 and was designed to help small businesses who lost some or all of their small business rate relief or rural rate relief following the 2017 revaluation so that businesses did see their bill increase by more than £600 per year.
The scheme is to last for five years, but the discount will end:
- when your bill reaches the amount you would have paid without the scheme
- if the property falls vacant
There is no need to make an application for this relief. If you qualify we will automatically apply the relief to your account and send you a revised bill. If you think you are entitled to the relief but haven’t received it, please contact the business rates section on 01482 394748.
Any relief awarded under this scheme will be adjusted if there is a change in your circumstances, for example if you vacate the premises or there is an amendment to the rateable value of your premises.
Discretionary revaluation relief
The discretionary revaluation relief was introduced to provide support to local businesses facing an increase in their business rates as a result of the 2017 revaluation. The relief is cash limited based on funding from central government and is subject to state aid limits.
The relief was effective from 1 April 2017 and is available for four years, the amount of relief provided will reduce over the four year period. Please contact the business rates section on 01482 394748 for further information.
The Council has a general power to grant discretionary local discounts. For further information please contact the business rates section on 01482 394748.
You can sometimes get part-occupied property relief if you are temporarily not using part of a property included in the rating assessment. This is a discretionary relief, which means it's not guaranteed. There is no fixed amount for this relief and the relief is at the Council's discretion. All cases are considered on a case by case basis
You must apply before the relevant part of the property is back in use again.
You can only get the relief for the first three months a property is empty, or for the first six months where the property counts as qualifying industrial premises. You can apply again if the unoccupied area changes. With any new application, you will need to explain exactly why you have made the changes.
If the Council decided to grant the relief we would then ask the Valuation Office Agency to provide a section 44A certificate to provide a split of the assessment between the occupied and unoccupied parts of the property.
In exceptional circumstances, we can give hardship relief to a ratepayer in difficulty. Hardship relief is a discount on the rates payable for a specific period. It is a discretionary relief, which means it is not guaranteed.
You might be able to get hardship relief if your business is suffering unexpected hardship (financial or otherwise) and all the following apply:
- the circumstances leading to the hardship are both beyond the control of the business and outside of the normal risks associated with running a business
- the difficulties are temporary and the business has a good chance of being viable in the long term
- the business might fail if we do not give hardship relief
You must be able to show you are taking reasonable steps to help yourself. We would expect you as a business owner to do everything you can to tackle the problems you are facing. This might mean, for example, getting business advice, reducing overheads, reviewing pricing, offering discounts, extending the range of stock or services, or negotiating with creditors.
You cannot get hardship relief to help establish a new business, unless the viability of the business is threatened by events you could not reasonably have foreseen.