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How to Reduce Your Business Rates

Unoccupied property rating

Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period, rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the Government by order. In most cases the unoccupied property rate is zero for properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs. In addition, there are a number of exemptions from the unoccupied property rate. Full details on exemptions can be obtained from the council. If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of your non-domestic rates bill.

Partly occupied property relief

A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, the local has discretion in certain cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. Full details can be obtained from the council.

Small business rate relief

Ratepayers who are not entitled to another mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates and occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £51,000 will have their bill calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier, rather than the national non-domestic rating multiplier.

In addition, if the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with a rateable value which does not exceed £15,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 100% for a property with a rateable value of not more than £12,000.

This percentage reduction (relief ) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either-

(a) one property, or

(b) one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,899.

The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £20,000 on each day for which relief is being sought. If the rateable value, or aggregate rateable value, increases above those levels, relief will cease from the day of the increase.

An application for small business rate relief is required. Where a ratepayer meets the eligibility criteria please complete and return this application form

Provided the ratepayer continues to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time as regards the property and the ratepayer, they will automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period. The entitlement to the relief will however be periodically reviewed.

Certain changes in circumstances will need to be notified to the council by a ratepayer who is in receipt of relief (other changes will be picked up by the council). The changes which must be notified are—

(a) the ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and

(b) an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the council which granted the relief.

Retail Discount

At Autumn Budget 2018, the Government announced a one-third discount for eligible retail businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, up to state aid limits. This scheme ran for two years from April 2019, but has now been extended. This discount will be applied to the bill after the application of any reliefs, excluding any local discounts.

The Government has issued guidance on the operation of the scheme, which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-expanded-retail-discount-2021-to-2022-local-authority-guidance/business-rates-expanded-retail-discount-2021-to-2022-local-authority-guidance

This relief will be delivered through local authority discretionary discount powers (under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988).

To apply, please click here (DOCX File)

Exemptions from the business rates charge

After the first three or six month rate-free period, the basic occupied business rate charge applies to an empty property unless:

  1. the rateable value of the property is less than £2,900 
  2. the owner is prohibited by law from occupying the property or allowing it to be occupied
  3. the property is kept vacant because of action taken by or on behalf of the Crown, or any other local or public authority, to prohibit occupation of the premises or acquisition of them.
  4. the property is included in the schedule of monuments compiled under section 1 to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
  5. the property is the subject of a building preservation notice within the meaning of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 or is included in a list compiled under section 1 of that Act
  6. the owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person
  7. one of the following insolvency or debt administration situations exists:
  • a bankruptcy order within the meaning of section 381 (2) of the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • the owner is entitled to possession of the property in his capacity as trustee under a deed of arrangement to which the Deeds of Arrangement Act 1914 applies.
  • the owner is a company subject to a winding-up order made under the Insolvency Act 1986 or which is being wound up voluntarily under that Act.
  • the owner is entitled to possession of the property in his capacity as liquidator under s112 or s145 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • the owner is a company in administration under the Insolvency Act 1986 or is subject to an administration order.

Empty properties with no business rates

There are no business rates to pay on an empty property if:

  • it is held by a charity and is likely to be next used for charitable purposes
  • it is held by a community amateur sports club and is likely to be next used for the purposes of the club
  • it is a newly-built non-domestic property completed after 1 October 2013 and before 30 September 2016.

Charity and Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) relief

Charities and registered CASCs are entitled to 80 per cent 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).

The council has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill. Full details can be obtained from the council.

Non-profit making organisation relief

The council has discretion to give relief to non-profit making organisations. Full details can be obtained from the council.

Local discounts and hardship relief

The council has discretion to give relief in specific circumstances. Full details can be obtained from the local council.

Rate relief for businesses in rural areas

Certain types of properties in a rural settlement with a population below 3,000 may be entitled to relief. The property must be the only general store, the only post office or a food shop and have a rateable value of less than £8,500, or the only public house or the only petrol station and have a rateable value of less than £12,500. The property has to be occupied. An eligible ratepayer is entitled to relief at 100% of the full charge whilst the council also has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill.

In addition, the council can give relief on certain other occupied property in a rural settlement where the rateable value is less than £16,500.

Full details can be obtained from the council.

Cancellation of backdated rates liabilities

The Government has, through the Localism Act 2011, taken a power to allow for the cancellation of certain backdated rates bills that accrued on the 2005 rating list only. Information on the type of backdated rates liability that can be cancelled is available with Business Rates Information letter titled Cancellation of Backdated Rates GOV.UK Business rates information letters.

Information supplied with demand notices

Information relating to the relevant and previous financial years in regard to the gross expenditure of the council is available on our website. A hard copy is available on request by writing to the council or by calling 01782 715500.

Rating advisers

Ratepayers do not have to be represented in discussions about their rateable value or their rates bill. Appeals against rateable values can be made free of charge. However, ratepayers who do wish to be represented should be aware that members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation are qualified and are regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct.

Before you employ a rating adviser, you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Take great care and, if necessary, seek further advice before entering into any contract.

Last updated 1 October 2020

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