Apply for business rates relief

Find out if you can get a discount or exemption on your business rates bill.

If you pay business rates, you may be able to get rate relief. You need
to apply for some rate reliefs, but others are automatic.

Rate relief types

Small business rates relief

You can get small business rate relief if:

  • your business only uses one property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 or
  • you use more than one property but the rateable value for each of your other properties is less than £2,900, and the total rateable value is less than £20,000 

You can only get a discount on one property, and the amount you will get depends on the rateable value of your business:

  • If your rateable value is £12,000 or below it will be 100%.
  • If your rateable value is between £12,001 and £14,999 then relief will go down on a sliding scale from 100% to 0%.

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).

Apply for small business rates relief

Supporting small businesses

You can get this relief if you lost all or some of your small business or rural rate relief as a result of a revaluation. It was introduced in April 2017 to help phase-in large increases in the amount billed for affected businesses and an amended scheme is in place from 1 April 2023.

The scheme limits any increase in business rates to a maximum of £600 per year. It will be automatically applied to your bill each year that you're able to get it - this might be every year or it might be sooner depending on if the bill amount without relief is reached.

In the first year of the scheme, all businesses losing some or all of their relief will have their increase in the bill capped at £600. For subsequent years of the valuation period, this bill will increase by no more than £600 a year.

Businesses with empty properties or charity or community sports club relief

If your business property becomes empty or you're eligible for mandatory charity or community amateur sports club relief, you will not be able to get the supporting small business relief and your bill will be the full amount - we'll identify where this is the case and apply it automatically.

If you think you should get this relief but it's not on your bill, please contact our business rates team.

Retail discount

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses can get 75% relief on their business rates bill from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025. This relief is capped and you can only receive relief up to the maximum limit of £110,000 across all eligible properties.

If you have more than one occupied business property you can get a retail discount on each one that qualifies, up to the £110,000 cap. We will work to find properties where an award will mean they exceed the cap, and then remove the discount.

If we have applied the discount but your business has or will exceed the cap level, you must tell us to opt out of the retail discount. We will remove the discount and send you a revised bill. If we have removed the discount because you may exceed the cap but you would like to receive it on your property, contact the business rates team and confirm that you will not exceed the cap. We will reapply the discount and issue a revised bill.

Refusing a discount

You can refuse to receive a retail discount and tell us if you want to opt out. We will remove the discount from your account and send you an updated bill with instalments to pay.

Businesses eligible for a retail discount

The following types of properties will be considered for a retail discount:

Properties that are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public:

  • shops (like florists, bakers, butchers, grocers and greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off-licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets)
  • charity shops
  • post offices
  • opticians
  • furnishing shops or display rooms (like carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
  • car or caravan showrooms
  • second hand car lots
  • markets
  • petrol stations
  • garden centres
  • art galleries (where art is for sale or hire)

Properties that are being used to provide the following services to members of the public:

  • hair and beauty services (like hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops)
  • shoe repairs and key cutting
  • travel agents
  • ticket offices (for example, for theatres)
  • dry cleaners
  • launderettes
  • PC, TV or domestic appliance repair
  • funeral directors
  • photo processing
  • tool hire
  • car hire

Properties that are being used for the sale of food or drink to visiting members of the public:

  • restaurants
  • takeaways
  • sandwich shops
  • coffee shops
  • pubs
  • bars

Properties that are being used as cinemas.

Properties that are being used as live music venues:

  • properties that are wholly or mainly used for the performance of live music for the purposes of entertaining an audience
  • properties can be a live music venue even if they are used for other activities, as long as they are secondary to the performance of live music (for example, the sale of alcohol to audience members)
  • properties can still get a discount if they are used infrequently for other purposes

Properties that are being used for the provision of sport, leisure and facilities to visiting members of the public (including for the viewing of such activities):

  • sports groups and clubs
  • museums and galleries
  • nightclubs
  • sport and leisure facilities
  • stately homes and historic houses
  • theatres
  • tourist attractions
  • gyms
  • wellness centres, spas and massage parlours
  • casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls

Properties that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public:

  • public halls
  • clubhouses, clubs and institutions

Properties used as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation:

  • hotels, guest and boarding houses
  • holiday homes
  • caravan parks and sites. 

Businesses that will not be considered for a retail discount

  • financial services (like banks, building societies, cash points, bureau de change, short-term loan providers)
  • medical services (like vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • professional services (like solicitors, accountants, insurance agents and financial advisers)
  • post office sorting offices
  • event companies
  • trade suppliers to the retail, leisure or hospitality industries
  • online retailers

These aren't complete lists. If you're not sure if your business is eligible for a retail discount, please contact the business rates team.

Exempted buildings and empty properties rates relief

Some non-domestic properties are exempt from paying business rates.

You may not have to pay business rates on:

  • agricultural land and buildings
  • buildings used for training or welfare of disabled people
  • buildings registered for religious worship or church halls

Empty properties

You don't have to pay business rates on empty buildings for three months. After this time, most businesses must pay full business rates.

Some properties can get this extended after the three months:

  • industrial premises (for example, warehouses) are exempt for a further three months
  • listed buildings as long as they are empty
  • buildings with a rateable value under £2,900 as long as they're empty
  • charity or community amateur sports clubs building as long as they're empty

Charitable rates relief

Charities and registered community amateur sports clubs can get 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 that and other charities), or for the purposes of the club (or of that and other clubs).

We can award a further 20% in certain circumstances, giving up to 100% relief.

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

Apply for charitable rate relief

Hardship rates relief

We can give relief on grounds of hardship. Relief will be considered if it can be shown that

  • you would have financial difficulties if we did not grant relief, and
  • it is reasonable for us to grant relief, considering the interests of council tax payers

Apply for hardship rates relief

Partly occupied rates relief

If your business is only using part of a property with the rest completely unused for a short period of time, we can give a temporary discount.

Partly occupied relief is stopped at the end of the rating year.

After applying a member of our business rates team may visit your property to see if you're eligible for the discount.

If you are eligible then the Valuation Office will issue a certificate to show the rateable value of the occupied and unoccupied parts of the property. This will be used to decide your new bill.

If that part of your property 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.

Your current rates will remain payable until and unless we send you a revised bill.

Apply for partly occupied rates relief

Rural rates relief

You can claim rural rate relief of 100% if your business is in a rural area with a population of less than 3,000 and:

  • is the only food shop, general store or post office with a rateable value of less than £8,500 or
  • is the only pub or petrol station with a rateable value of less than £12,500
  • the property is occupied

It is possible for both the general store and the post office in the same rural area to get relief if both meet the above conditions.

If you do not meet the above conditions, we may still award discretionary relief of up to 100% for a property with a rateable value of less than £16,500 if:

  • the property is used to benefit the community and
  • it would be in the best interests of taxpayers in the district

Apply for rural rates relief

Newspaper rates relief

If your business occupies office space for a local newspaper you can claim a discount of £1,500 per year 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 (state aid) limits.

You'll need to contact our business rates team to see if you can apply for newspaper relief.

Subsidy allowance

Subsidy allowance (previously called state aid) law is the means by which the European Union regulates state funded support to businesses.

The award of this relief is considered likely to amount to subsidy allowance. However it will be subsidy allowance compliant where it is provided in accordance with the De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013. The De Minimis Regulations allow an undertaking to receive up to €200,000 ‘de minimis’ aid over a rolling three-year period.

If you are receiving, or have received, any ‘de minimis’ allowance granted during the current or two previous financial years (from any source), please complete a subsidy allowance declaration form.