Financial help for businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic
If your business is legally required to close because of national or local restrictions introduced after 31 October 2020, you can claim a support grant for the period you are forced to close.
Business rates, reliefs and exemptions
There are a number of different types of business rate reliefs and exemptions available. The types of reliefs available can change from year to year.
If you apply for rate relief or an exemption, 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 discretionary element. The cost of reliefs is shared between central government and us.
You do not have to pay business rates on empty properties -
- as long as the property is empty - if the property has a rateable value under £2,900 or the property is listed or it is classified as land
- for a six month exemption period - if the property has a rateable value of over £2,900 and is a qualifying industrial premises
- for three month exemption period - if the property has a rateable value over £2,900 and is not an industrial property
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 -
Small business rates relief
Small Business Rates Relief is available to businesses who occupy property with a rateable value of less than £14,999, which is the upper threshold. To receive this relief, one 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 awarded 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 per cent at £12,000 to zero per cent at £14,999.
You can only get small business rates relief for one property.
Charities, not for profit organisations and community amateur sports club relief
Charities and registered community amateur sports clubs are entitled to a mandatory 80 per cent relief where the property is occupied by the charity or club. The property must be 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).
They can also apply for an extra discretionary relief of up to 20% per cent.
A not-for-profit organisation can apply for discretionary relief. The types of organisations that can benefit from this relief include groups whose main objectives are -
- concerned with education
- social welfare
- fine arts
Sports and social clubs can also claim.
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 has been further extended by the Government until 31 March 2025.
In 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.
On 27 January 2020, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury made a written Ministerial Statement announcing that the retail discount will increase from one third to 50 per cent from 1 April 2020. In addition to the eligibility criteria listed below, the following additional premises qualify from 1 April 2020 -
- music venues
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
- petrol stations
- restaurants and cafes
- drinking establishments
Business premises that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public -
- financial services, such as -
- building societies
- cash points
- bureau de change
- payday lenders
- medical services, such as -
- professional services, such as -
- insurance agents
- financial advisors
- post office sorting offices
- business premises that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public
There is no rateable value cap on this relief for the financial year 2020/21 only.
On 27 January 2020, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury made a written Ministerial Statement announcing that all eligible pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will receive a £1,000 discount.
This is in addition to the retail discount and will apply after the retail discount. State aid rules will apply to Pub Relief.
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 re-evaluation which resulted in their bill increasing 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 have not received it, please contact the Business Rates team by submitting an enquiry using the Business Rates General Enquiry form below.
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.
We have a general power to grant discretionary local discounts. For further information please contact the Business Rates team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 that it is not guaranteed. You must not be able to occupy part of your property for a short period of time, and this cannot be part of your normal business operations.
You must apply before the relevant part of the property is back in use again, and granting of the relief is at the discretion of us.
Each award would end at the end of the financial year in which your award was granted.
If we decide 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 of 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 have reasonably foreseen.
Queries, Applying for Relief or Exemptions
If you have a query regarding your account, or wish to apply for a relief or exemption, please contact the Business Rates team by using the Business Rates General Enquiry form below.