Apply for business rates relief

Find what business rates relief your business may qualify for, how to apply, and how to report suspected fraud.

Improvement relief

If you make certain improvements to your property, you may get relief from higher business rates bills. You do not need to apply for improvement relief or do anything differently. If you meet the necessary requirements, your council will apply the relief to your bills.

You can find out more about which improvements are eligible by going to GOV.UK and searching ‘business rates reliefs’, or visit:

GOV.UK - Business rates relief (external website)

If you have questions about a certificate of qualifying works, please contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) at the email address on your certificate.
Please note: the VOA cannot answer queries about the occupation condition or your business rates bill.

What is improvement relief?

  • Improvement relief supports businesses who have invested in their property
  • It provides relief from higher business rates bills, where the increase in your bill was due to making certain improvements to your property.

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Who is eligible for improvement relief? Do I need to apply for it?

The relief lasts for 12 months from when the improvement works were completed. You do not need to apply for improvement relief or do anything differently. Your local council will apply the relief to your bills if you are eligible.

To be eligible for improvement relief, you must have qualifying improvement works, and meet the occupation condition.

To find out more about improvement relief, go to GOV.UK and search ‘business rates relief’, or visit:

GOV.UK - Business rates relief (external website)

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How does improvement relief work?

You will receive a certificate from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) if you have qualifying works. The VOA will give the same information to your local council.

Your council will apply the relief and send you a revised bill if they are satisfied that you meet the occupation requirements. This means that you have occupied the property during and after the improvement works.

I have received a certificate from the VOA. What does this mean?

If you have received a certificate of qualifying works from the VOA, this means that you may be eligible for improvement relief. Improvement relief provides relief from higher business rates bills, where the increase in your bill was due to making certain improvements to your property. The VOA will send this information to your local council. Your local council will apply the relief to your business rates bill if you also meet the occupation condition.

I think my certificate for improvement relief is wrong. Who should I contact?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) values qualifying works and issues certificates to ratepayers. There is no right of appeal against the certified values, however, you should let the VOA know if you think there is something wrong with your certificate. You can contact the VOA using the email address on your letter.

Where can I find out more information about improvement relief?

To find out more about improvement relief, go to GOV.UK and search ‘business rates relief’, or visit:

GOV.UK - Business rates relief (external website)

Customers in Wales can also find out more information by visiting:

Business Wales - Non-Domestic Rates – Improvement Relief (external website)

How do I apply for business rates relief?

Your business may qualify for business rate relief depending on factors such as what your organisation does, where it is located and the rateable value of your business property.

Answer the questions below to find out what business rate relief your business may qualify for and how to apply

Does my business qualify for small business rate relief?

Your business may qualify for small business rates relief if:

  • you occupy only one property with a rateable value of under £15,000
  • you occupy one main property with a rateable value of under £15, 000 and other additional properties. Each additional property must have a rateable value of £2,899 or less and the total rateable value of all your properties is £19,999 or less.

The relief is 100 per cent for properties with a rateable value under £11,999. For those properties with a rateable value 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.

Small business rates relief is only available for occupied properties. You must be the ratepayer or a person authorised to act on behalf of the ratepayer to submit an application for small business rate relief.

Your business will not qualify for small business rate relief if:

  • you have not occupied the property
  • you receive mandatory charity relief or rural rate relief
  • you take on any additional properties.

Apply for Small Business Rates Relief

Before filling the online form, make sure you have the following information:

  • your business account name
  • your business rates account number
  • the rateable value (RV) of each of your business properties.

Please note: if you submit false information, you can be fined, imprisoned or both.

Does my business qualify for the temporary expanded retail discount?

In the March budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government would provide additional business rates support for eligible retail, hospitality and nursery businesses occupying a qualifying property.

As a temporary measure for 2021/22 the following discounts have been agreed:

  • The Expanded Retail Discount (2020/21) will be extended for three months for eligible properties, at 100% relief, uncapped, for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.
  • From 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, the Expanded Retail Discount would apply at 66% relief for eligible properties in the scheme, with a cash cap of £2m for businesses that were required to close as at 5 January 2021, and up to £105,000 for business permitted to open at that date.
  • The Nursery Discount 2021 would also be extended for three months, at 100%, uncapped, for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.
  • From 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 the Nursery Discount would apply at 66% relief for eligible properties, with a cash cap of £105,000.

For the Expanded Retail Discount 2021/22 and Nursery Discount 2021/22, businesses may choose to opt out of support by providing billing authorities notification of their request to refuse support, per eligible hereditament.

The Council wrote to all eligible businesses to inform them of the discount and businesses received a nil bill in April 2021. In June 2021, the council will send a revised bill to businesses for the period 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, when the reduced discount is applied to accounts.

Does my business qualify for rural rate relief?

Rural rate relief is available to businesses located in designated rural settlements. You may qualify for a mandatory 100 per cent relief if you are in a designated rural settlement and your business is:

  • a general store with a rateable value of under £8,500

  • a post office with a rateable value of under £8,500

  • a public house with a rateable value of under £12,500

  • a petrol filling station with a rateable value of under £12,500

  • a food store with a rateable value of under £8,500

If your business doesn’t qualify for a mandatory business rate relief, you may still qualify for a discretionary relief if the rateable value of your business is under £16,500.

Check if your business qualifies for rural rate relief

Before filling the online form, make sure you have the following information:

  • your business account name

  • your business rates account number

Does my business qualify for charitable rate relief?

Registered, and non-registered charities and not-for-profit organisations can apply for charitable rate relief of up to 100% if a property is used for charitable purposes. If you are a registered charity you will automatically qualify for 80% mandatory relief. You can also apply for discretionary relief top up for the remaining 20% charge. If you are not eligible for charitable rate relief, you may still be able to get discretionary relief if you’re a non-profit or voluntary organisation.

Check if your business qualifies for charitable rate relief

Before filling the online form, make sure you have the following information:

  • your business account name

  • business rates account number

  • the full address of your business properties

  • if you are a registered charity, not-for-profit or voluntary organisation, you will need your registration number

  • your written constitution, if you have one

  • your latest audited business accounts unless this is your first year of trading

  • a business plan – this is not mandatory but it can be used if you don’t have audited accounts

  • information about membership fees if fees are charged and the residency of your members

  • if you are a charity shop, information about turnover generated by donated products as opposed to new goods. The percentage of donated goods must be 50 per cent or more to qualify for charitable rate relief.

Does my business qualify for sports clubs rate relief?

Community amateur sports clubs (CASCs) can apply for 80% mandatory relief if they are registered with HM Revenue and Customs. A CASC can also apply for a discretionary ‘top up’ relief of up to 20 per cent.

A sports club that is not registered as a CASC, but is operated on a not-for-profit basis can also apply for discretionary relief.

Check if your business qualifies for sports club rate relief

Before filling the online form, make sure you have the following information:

  • your business account name

  • your business rates account number

  • your written constitution, if you have one

  • your latest audited business accounts

  • a business plan – this is not mandatory but it can be used if you don’t have audited accounts

  • charity registration number if you are a registered charity

  • public liability insurance certificate

  • information about the residency of your members

Can I get business rate relief for unoccupied properties?

If your business property is not occupied, you may still qualify for business rates relief depending on your business.

Properties can be granted an exemption from the payment of business rates for certain periods if they are unoccupied and there are various other discounts and exemptions available.

If a property is empty the following types of exemption are available:

  • if the property has a rateable value under £2,899 or the property is listed, or the property is classified as land. In this case 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. In this case a maximum six-month period of exemption can be applied
  • if the property is over £2,899 and is not industrial. In this case a maximum period of three months exemption can be applied
  • in all cases the exemption applies to the property and so if the previous account holder has already used some of the empty exemption then the remaining amount of time is the maximum that can be applied. If all the period of exemption has been utilised then no further exemption is applicable, until the property has been occupied again for at least 13 weeks.

Read more about occupied and unoccupied properties on the billing of business rates page.

How do I contact the business rates team?

If you need further information regarding business rates relief, please contact the business rate team:

How do I report suspected fraud?

Business rates fraud is committed when someone deliberately gives false or misleading information so that they can pay lower or no business rates. It includes:

  • stating that a property is no longer in use and therefore qualifies for a reduction in rates
  • not declaring the location of a business to avoid paying business rates.

You can report suspected fraud anonymously.

Report suspected fraud

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