Business rates, reliefs and exemptions

Relief available for business rates

There are several 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 the authority.

Charitable rate relief

Charities, registered community amateur sports clubs and non-for-profit organisations can get 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity, club or organisation. 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) or organisation.

We can award up to 100% relief for a non-domestic property that is occupied by an organisation not established or conducted for profit.

Freeport relief

We can give ratepayers Freeport relief of up to 100%, up to a maximum of 5 years from the date they -

  • started their business in the freeport or moved there after the freeport was set
  • expanded their business in the freeport after the freeport was set up - for example, if you built an extension, took on new rooms or bought a new property in the freeport

Hardship relief

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 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.

Newspaper relief

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 2 years from 1 April 2017 but has been further extended by the government until 31 March 2025.

Newspaper relief can be claimed up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per property and up to Subsidy Allowance.

Partly occupied relief

We can give temporary relief to ratepayers who are only using a part of their property where the rest is completely unused.

This relief is only available where the unused part will remain so for a short time only. Partly occupied relief is stopped at the end of the rating year. If the part of your property that is unused is going to remain empty for the foreseeable future and it is capable of being split from the part that is being used, you can ask the valuation officer to split the assessment.

A valuation officer may visit your property to see if you are eligible for relief. If we decide that relief can be given, we will ask the valuation officer to issue a certificate to show the rateable values of the occupied and unoccupied parts. We will then send a revised bill.

Public lavatory relief

In 2021 the Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill came into force which gives public lavatories 100% relief from business rates, it applies retrospectively from 1 April 2020.

The relief does not apply to toilets of a larger unit of rateable property (a “hereditament”). For example, toilets in public libraries. It amends Part 3 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to ensure that, in relation to an eligible hereditament which consists wholly or mainly of a public lavatory, the chargeable amount will be zero. This provides, in effect, a 100% mandatory relief for eligible public lavatories in England and Wales.

Retail discount

Visit the page to find out more information on Retail discounts.

Small business rates relief

You can get small business rate relief if you -

  • only use one property, and its rateable value is less than £15,000
  • use more than one property, and the rateable value of each of your other properties is less than £2,900, with the rateable value of all these properties combined being less than £20,000

Small business rate relief is not automatically applied to your account. You must apply for it if you think you qualify.

If you don't qualify for relief, but your occupied property has a rateable value of less than £51,000, you will still pay less. Your bill will be automatically calculated using the small business rate multiplier (even if you have more than one property).

Where the ratepayer is a person they must complete the application. And in any other case, for example when a company, it must be completed by a person with authority to do so on behalf of the ratepayer.

How much you will get

  • If your 2023 rateable value is £12,000 or below, small business rate relief will be given at 100%
  • If your 2023 rateable value is between £12,001 and £14,999 inclusive, the small business rate multiplier is used, and relief will be given on a sliding scale - from 100% at the top of the range to 0% at the bottom

Backdated small business rate relief

Small business rate relief will not always be backdated to the date you became liable for your property. The earliest we can backdate the relief in most cases is 1 April 2012, but in some instances this date may be later.

If you take on an additional property

For those businesses that take on an additional property which would normally have meant the loss of small business rate relief, the government has confirmed that they will be allowed to keep that relief for a period of 12 months. If you take on an additional property inside or outside of Hull, you must contact us within 28 days.

If something changes

If something changes that could affect your small business rate relief, you must tell us straight away.

Supporting small business relief

This relief is available to ratepayers who have lost some or all their small business rate relief or rural rate relief as a result of an increase in rateable value as a result of a revaluation. This relief was introduced from 1 April 2017 to help phase-in large increases for those affected and an amended scheme in place from 1 April 2023.

The scheme limits any increase in business rates to £600 per year. Relief will automatically be applied each year that the business is eligible to receive it. This could be every year or could end sooner if the bill amount without the relief is reached.

This means that in the first year of the scheme, all ratepayers losing some or all their small business rate or rural rate relief will have the increase in their bill capped at £600. For subsequent years of the valuation period, the bill will increase by no more than £600 per year.

If your property becomes empty during the period of the scheme, or if you are entitled to mandatory relief for charities or community amateur sports clubs, you will no longer be eligible to receive the supporting small business relief. Your bill will return to the full amount due without this relief.

We automatically identify those ratepayers who should receive this relief and apply it to their bill.

If you feel that you qualify for this relief, but it is not showing on your bill, please contact the business rates team.

Transitional rate relief

All rateable values are reassessed at a general revaluation. Revaluations will take place every 3 years. On 1 April 2023 the new rating list came into effect and your bill will be based on the rateable value assigned to the property on this date.

Property values normally change a good deal between each revaluation, so transitional relief arrangements help to phase-in the effects of these changes on ratepayers’ bills. Where there is a decrease in rateable value, ratepayers will see the reduction in their bill straight away.

We will automatically include transitional relief when we calculate your bill. It is shown on the bill as ‘Transitional Adjustment’.

Transitional relief limits the percentage your business rates bill can be increased each year following revaluation. The transitional relief will apply each year until the full amount is due and your bill reaches what your full bill should be.

The full bill is calculated by multiplying the rateable value by the multiplier.

More information on transitional rate relief is available on the GOV.UK website.

Unoccupied properties

Non-domestic properties are exempt from paying business rates for the first 3 months that they are empty and unoccupied. After this time, most businesses must pay full business rates.

Some properties can get extended empty property relief -

  • industrial premises, such as warehouses, are exempt for a further 3 months
  • listed buildings are exempt until they become occupied again
  • buildings with a rateable value under £2,900 are exempt until they become occupied again
  • properties owned by charities are exempt if the property's next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for charitable purposes
  • community amateur sports club buildings are exempt if their next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for a sport club

After the exemption period ends, business rates will be charged at 100%.

A change in ownership or tenancy will not affect the right to an exemption. For example, if someone purchases or leases a property that has already been unoccupied for over 3 months, a new period of exemption cannot be applied.

Your business rates account

If you have a query regarding your business rates account or wish to apply for a relief or an exemption, contact the business rates team through your My Business Rates account.

To log in or register for access to your business rates account visit this page.