Business rates explanatory notes 2023 to 2024

A summary of what your business rates bill means.

Non-Domestic Rates (business rates)

Business rates are collected by local authorities. This money, together with revenue from council tax payers, locally generated income and grants from central government, is used to pay for local services.

From 1 April 2013, local authorities keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally. This provides an incentive for us to work with local businesses to create a favourable local environment for growth.

Find more information about the business rates system on GOV.UK

Business rates instalments

Payment of business rate bills is automatically set to 10 monthly instalments. However, you are able to make payments in 12 monthly instalments if you so wish.

If you wish to do this you should contact the business rates team as soon as possible.

Business rates multiplier

We work out your business rates bill by multiplying the rateable value of the property by a multiplier. There are two multipliers: the standard business rates multiplier and the small business rates multiplier.

If your property has a rateable value of less than £51,000 and you are not entitled to certain other mandatory reliefs or unoccupied property rates, your bill will be calculated using the small business rates multiplier.

Except in the City of London where special arrangements apply, the government sets the multipliers for each financial year for the whole of England.

Both multipliers for a financial year are based on the previous year’s multiplier adjusted to reflect the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation figure for the September prior to the billing year, unless a lower multiplier is set by the Government. The current multipliers are shown on the front of your bill.

Rateable value

Apart from properties that are exempt from business rates, each non-domestic property has a rateable value which is set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

The VOA draws up and maintains a full list of all rateable values.

The rateable value of your property is shown on the front of your bill. This broadly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on a particular date. For the current rating list, this date was set as 1 April 2021.

The VOA may change the rateable value if circumstances change. The ratepayer and certain others who have an interest in the property can check and challenge the valuation shown in the list if they believe it is wrong.

Full details on your rights of appeal are available from the VOA. We can only backdate any business rates rebate to the date from which the list is changed.

Further information about the grounds on which challenges can be made and the process for doing so can be found on the VOA website.


All non-domestic property rateable values are reassessed at revaluations. The most recent revaluation took effect from 1 April 2023. Revaluations ensure that business rates bills are up-to-date, more accurately reflect current rental values and relative changes in rents.

Frequent revaluations ensure the system continues to be responsive to changing economic conditions.

Business rate relief

There are a range of reliefs available to help reduce the business rates you pay. Some of these are permanent and others are temporary, often introduced by the Government at a fiscal event.

Small business rates relief

You can get small business rates 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 £2,899 or less, with the rateable value of all these properties combined being £19,999 or less

You can only get small business rate relief on one property.

The rateable values of the properties are added together, and the relief is applied to the main property.

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).

Amount of relief

  • For properties with rateable value £12,000 or below, small business rate relief will be given at 100%.

  • For properties with rateable value between £12,001 and £14,999, small business rate relief will be given on a sliding scale – from 100% at the bottom of the range to 0% at the top.

  • For properties with rateable value £50,999 or less, the small business rate multiplier is used only (even if you have more than one property).

For the small business rate multiplier to be used, you must not be entitled to either:

  • other mandatory relief for the property, or
  • an unoccupied exemption for the property

Businesses that take on an additional property which would normally have meant the loss of small business rate relief will be allowed to keep that relief for 12 months.

If you believe you should be getting small business rate relief but have not received it, please apply for small business rate relief.

If you continue to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time, you will automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period.

If you get small business rate relief, you need to tell us about the following changes in circumstances (we will pick up on all other changes):

  • if the property becomes vacant
  • if you take up occupation of an additional property
  • an increase in the rateable value of a property you occupy outside our council area

Charity and community amateur sports club relief

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

We may also give further relief on the remaining bill. 

Unoccupied property rate relief

You don’t have to pay business rates in the first three months that a property is empty. After this time, most businesses must pay full business rates.

Some properties can get extended empty property relief:

  • industrial premises (for example warehouses) are exempt for a further three months
  • listed buildings – until they’re reoccupied
  • buildings with a rateable value under £2,900 – until they’re reoccupied
  • properties owned by charities – only if the property’s next use will be mostly for charitable purposes
  • community amateur sports clubs buildings – only if the next use will be mostly as a sports club

Transitional rate relief

At a revaluation, some ratepayers will see reductions or no change in their bill whereas some ratepayers will see increases.

Transitional relief schemes are introduced at each revaluation to help those facing increases. Transitional relief is automatically applied and is shown on the front of your bill.

Find out more about revaluation and transitional relief

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 100% relief. The property must be occupied and either:

  • 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

Retail discount

The government has introduced a 75% retail discount on business rates bills for eligible businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

This discount is for the financial year 2023 to 2024 and subject to a cap of £110,000 per business.

Relief for local newspapers

Office space occupied by local newspapers can get a discount of up to £1,500 per year. This was due to run for two years from 1 April 2017 but has been extended until 31 March 2025. This is up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per property, and up to subsidy allowance (state aid) limits.
Please contact our business rates team if you aren’t receiving this relief and think you might be eligible.

Supporting small business relief

Ratepayers losing small business or rural rate relief as a result of the 2023 revaluation will have increases to their bill limited to £600 per year.

Ratepayers will receive the relief until the end of the scheme or until their bill reaches what it would have been without the relief scheme, whichever comes first.

Hardship relief

We can give relief to ratepayers experiencing hardship in certain circumstances.

Apply for business rates relief

Subsidy control (previously state aid)

The new UK subsidy control regime commenced from 4th January 2023. The new regime enables public authorities, including devolved administrations and local authorities, to deliver subsidies that are tailored for local needs. Public authorities giving subsidies must comply with the UK’s international subsidy control commitments.

The subsidy control legislation provides the framework for a new, UK-wide subsidy control regime. Further information about subsidy control can be found on the website.

Find out more about subsidy allowance

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  (RICS) and the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) 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.

Information supplied with demand notices

Information relating to this and previous financial years gross expenditure is available on our council tax pages. Please contact us to request a hard copy if you would like one.