Business

Business rates reliefs

2021/2022 business rates updates

The government’s Budget announcement on 3 March 2021 included support for businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through Business Rate Reliefs.

This included support for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties who will receive 100% business rates relief from the 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. Following this, a discount of 66% will apply until 31 March 2022, up to a value of £2,000,000 per business for properties that were required to be closed on the 5 January 2021, or £105,000 per business for other eligible properties.

Ofsted Nurseries will also qualify for relief in the same was as other eligible properties, apart from a cap of £105,000 which will apply regardless of whether the business was closed or open.

We are now issuing demand notices for the 2021/2022 financial year which include these discounts.

A number of reliefs are available for your business rates, dependent on your circumstances or the location of your business.

Contact the business rates team to apply for a relief.

See further information about business rates property exemptions and reliefs.


Small business rates relief

Small business rates relief is available to reduce business rates bills for some small businesses.

You won’t pay any business rates on a property with a Rateable Value (RV) of £12,000 or less provided it is the only property which you occupy.

For properties with a rateable value of £12,001 to £15,000, the rate of relief will go down gradually from 100% to 0%.

In general this relief is only available to businesses who occupy either:

  • 1 main property with a RV which is less than £15,000, or;
  • 1 main property (with a RV which is less than £15,000) plus other additional properties providing:
    • the additional properties each have a RV which is below £2,900 and
    • the total RV of all your properties is less than £20,000

Even if you don’t qualify for small business rate relief, and your property has a rateable value below £51,000, you'll still have the bill for your main property calculated using the lower rate multiplier.

If you already qualify for any mandatory relief, for example as a registered charity or under the rural relief scheme, you will not be eligible for relief under this scheme. Similarly, small business rate relief awards does not apply to properties that are unoccupied.

Download the small business rates relief application form.

Help for businesses that take on additional properties

If you currently receive small business rate relief and take on a second property you will continue to receive small business rate relief on your first property for a further 12 months. You will be charged full business rates on the new property.

Top of page


Retail Discount 2019 to 2020

The government announced a relief scheme for retail properties that have a rateable value less than £51,000 in the October 2018 budget. Under the scheme, eligible ratepayers will receive one third discount of their daily chargeable amount. The relief will take effect during the financial years 2019 to 2020.

In order to be eligible for the discount, the property must:

  • be occupied
  • have a rateable value of less than £51,000
  • be wholly or mainly being used as a shop, restaurant, café or drinking establishment, or;
  • from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 be wholly or mainly being used as a cinema or a live music venue

We have already identified retail businesses which we believed would be eligible and automatically applied this relief. If you believe you may be eligible, but have not received a revised bill reflecting the award of Retail Discount, please contact the Business Rates Team.

For more information please view further Retail Discount guidance (GOV.UK).

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Expanded Retail Discount 2020 to 2021

The government announced in the Budget on 29 October 2018 that it would provide a Business Rates Retail Discount, to apply in the years 2019/20 and 2020/21.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, in the Budget on 11 March 2020 the government announced that it would increase the discount to 100% and extend it to include the leisure and hospitality sectors.

Following the announcement on 23 March 2020 of further measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, the government confirmed that some of the exclusions for this relief had been removed, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that will have had to close as a result of the restriction measures will now be eligible for the relief.

This relief will apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020/21. There will be no rateable value limit on the relief.

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure; or
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

We have already identified businesses which we believed would be eligible and automatically applied this relief. If you believe you may be eligible, but have not received a revised bill reflecting the award of Expanded Retail Discount, please contact the Business Rates Team.

For more information please view further Retail Discount guidance (GOV.UK).

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Expanded Retail Discount 2021 to 2022

The government’s Budget announcement on 3 March 2021 included support for businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through Business Rate Reliefs.

This relief will apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020/21. A subsidy ‘Cash Cap’ is applied to this relief. Eligible properties will therefore receive:

  • 100% relief from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. No ‘Cash Cap’ applies for this period.
  • 66% relief from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, up to a value of £2,000,000 per business for properties that were required to be closed on the 5 January 2021; where a business was not required to close on 5 January 2021, a £105,000 per business ‘cash cap’ will apply

There will be no rateable value limit on the relief.

Hereditaments that meet the eligibility for Expanded Retail Discount will be occupied hereditaments which meet all of the following conditions for the chargeable day:

  • they are wholly or mainly being used:
    • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
    • for assembly and leisure; or
    • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

The government consider shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues to mean:

  • 1) Hereditaments that are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public:
    • shops (such as: florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets)
    • charity shops
    • opticians
    • post offices
    • furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
    • car and caravan show rooms
    • second hand car lots
    • markets
    • petrol stations
    • garden centres
    • art galleries (where art is for sale or hire)
  • 2) Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:
    • hair and beauty services (such as: hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops)
    • shoe repairs/key cutting
    • travel agents
    • ticket offices (for example for theatre)
    • dry cleaners
    • launderettes
    • computer, television, domestic appliance repair
    • funeral directors
    • photo processing
    • tool hire
    • car hire
    • employment agencies
    • estate agents and letting agents
    • betting shops 
  • 3) Hereditaments that are being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public:
    • restaurants
    • takeaways
    • sandwich shops
    • coffee shops
    • pubs
    • bars
  • 4) Hereditaments which are being used as cinemas
  • 5) Hereditaments that are being used as live music venues:
    • live music venues are hereditaments wholly or mainly used for the performance of live music for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Hereditaments cannot be considered a live music venue for the purpose of business rates relief where a venue is wholly or mainly used as a nightclub or a theatre, for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended)
    • hereditaments can be a live music venue even if used for other activities, but only if those other activities;
      • (i) are merely ancillary or incidental to the performance of live music (for example the sale/supply of alcohol to audience members), or;
      • (ii) do not affect the fact that the primary activity for the premises is the performance of live music (for example because those other activities are insufficiently regular or frequent, such as a polling station or a fortnightly community event)
    • there may be circumstances in which it is difficult to tell whether an activity is a performance of live music or, instead, the playing of recorded music, although we would expect this would be clear in most circumstances, guidance on this may be found in Chapter 16 of the statutory guidance issued in April 2018 under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 [footnote 4]

The Government considers assembly and leisure to mean:

  • 1) Hereditaments 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 grounds and clubs
    • museums and art galleries
    • nightclubs
    • sport and leisure facilities
    • stately homes and historic houses
    • theatres
    • tourist attractions
    • gyms
    • wellness centres, spas, massage parlours
    • casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls
  • 2) Hereditaments that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public.
    • public halls
    • clubhouses, clubs and institutions

The Government considers hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation to mean:

  • 1) Hereditaments where the non-domestic part is being used for the provision of living accommodation as a business:
    • hotels, Guest and Boarding Houses
    • holiday homes
    • caravan parks and sites

To qualify for the discount the hereditament should be wholly or mainly being used for the above qualifying purposes. In a similar way to other reliefs (such as charity relief), this is a test on use rather than occupation.

Therefore, hereditaments which are occupied but not wholly or mainly used for the qualifying purpose will not qualify for the relief. For the avoidance of doubt, hereditaments which have closed due to the government’s advice on COVID-19 should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief.

Top of page


Nursery Discount 2020 to 2021

100% rates relief can be granted to occupiers of non-domestic properties where day nursery provision is made.

The relief is effective until 31 March 2021.

This discount is for business properties occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and which are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage and which are subject to business rates in the financial year 2020/21. There will be no rateable value limit on this relief. This discount is planned to last for 1 year only.

We have received a list of Ofsted registered premises and have automatically applied the relief to all of these where it is clear that the whole or main activity is early years education.

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Nursery Discount 2021 to 2022

This discount is for business properties occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and which are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage and which are subject to business rates. A ‘Cash Cap’ applied to this relief.

Qualifying properties will receive:

  • 100% rate relief for the period 1 April to 30 June 2021; there is no ‘Cash Cap’ for this period
  • 66% rate relief for the period 1 July to 31 March 2021; a ‘Cash Cap’ of £105,000 will apply from 1 July 2021, therefore relief will be capped at £105,000 per business

We have a list of Ofsted registered premises and will automatically apply the relief to eligible properties, where it is clear that the whole or main activity is early years education.

Where we believe the ‘Cash Cap’ will be breached, we will withhold the relief.

Top of page


Pubs discount 2020 to 2021

In a Written Ministerial Statement on 27 January 2020 the government announced that a £1,000 business rate discount for public houses with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will be available for 1 year from 1 April 2020.

In order to be eligible for the discount, the property must:

  • be open to the general public
  • allow free entry, other than when occasional entertainment is provided
  • allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed
  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar

We'll identify the public houses which we believe will be eligible and will automatically apply the discount. If you believe you may be eligible, but have not received a revised bill reflecting the award of Pub Discount, please contact the Business Rates Team. See further information regarding the Pubs Discount (GOV.UK).

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Relief for charities

Registered charities are entitled to relief from business rates on any 'non-domestic property' that is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. This includes charity shops, provided that the goods sold are wholly or mainly donated.

Relief is given at 80% of the rate bill. To qualify:

  • a registered charity or trustees for a registered charity must occupy the property
  • the property must be used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes

Certain other organisations, such as universities, which are exempt from registration as a charity may also qualify for relief.

If the property is empty you can still claim rate relief if, when next in use, the property will be used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes. There is full relief for empty properties in this situation.

Charities can apply for mandatory relief by writing to the Business Rates Team.

You can also apply for discretionary rate relief from the remaining 20% of your bill.

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

See further information about business rates property exemptions and reliefs.

Top of page


Relief for not-for-profit organisations

Discretionary relief can be granted for up to 100% of the rates charged to certain not-for-profit making bodies.

To be eligible the organisation must be a non-profit making body.

The property must be:

  • used for charitable, philanthropic or religious purposes, or;
  • concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts, or;
  • used wholly or mainly for recreation by a not-for-profit club or society (with objectives which are broadly charitable)

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Community amateur sports clubs

Registered community amateur sports clubs can receive 80% rate relief.

To qualify as a community amateur sports club (CASC) your sports club must be occupied by the charity or club and be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes or as a registered community amateur sports club.

To apply for relief you must first register as a CASC. See further information on registering as a CASC (GOV.UK).

If the property is empty you can still claim rate relief if, when next in use, it will be used by a CASC. There is full relief for an empty property in this situation

You can also apply for top up discretionary rate relief from the remaining 20% of your bill

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

See further information about business rates property exemptions and reliefs.

Top of page


Rural rate relief

Certain types of business in rural settlements with a population below 3,000 may qualify for 50% rate relief.

To qualify the property must be occupied and be the only:

  • general store, post office or food shop with a rateable value of less than £8,500
  • public house or petrol filling station with a rateable value of less than £12,500

In addition, we also have discretion to give up to 100% relief to any other business with a rateable value less than £16,500 in a rural settlement with a population below 3,000, if we're satisfied that the business is of benefit to the community, with regard to the interests of its council tax payers.

For more information on this scheme, and to make an application, download the rural rate relief application form.

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Discretionary rate relief

There are 2 types of business rate relief: mandatory and discretionary.

The Local Government Finance Act 1988 requires local authorities to grant mandatory rate relief to the following categories of business rates payer:

  • registered charities
  • village post offices, general stores, specialist food shops, public houses and petrol filling stations – where they are in a designated rural settlement
  • registered Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs)

The Local Government Finance Act 1988 gives local authorities the power to grant discretionary rate relief as follows:

  • to make a further award on top of mandatory relief to those categories listed above
  • in respect of sports grounds and clubs
  • to other non-profit making organisations
  • to other rural businesses situated within a designated rural settlement

Discretionary rate relief can be awarded for a maxim period of 2 years. The awards are made on an annual basis by elected council members within the constraints of the budget available in any one year.

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Relief for local newspapers

The Government is providing funding to local authorities so that they can provide a discount worth up to £1,500 a year on office space occupied by local newspapers. This scheme provides up to a maximum of 1 discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to subsidy limits.

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

In a Written Ministerial Statement on 27 January 2020 the Government announced that the extension of the £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspapers, will apply for an additional 5 years until 31st March 2025.

An eligibility criterion for this relief is set out in a guidance note: The case for a business rates relief for local newspapers.

See further information regarding relief for local newspapers (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Discretionary revaluation relief

At the Spring Budget 2017, it was announced that a discretionary fund of £300 million has been made available nationally. It's payable over 4 years to enable billing authorities to support those facing the steepest increases in their business rates following 2017 revaluation.

The transitional relief scheme already limits increases to bills due to the revaluation; however, the government have decided that local authorities can grant further relief to those most affected at their discretion.

Every billing authority in England has been provided with a share of £300 million to support their local businesses. The responsibility of determining how this fund should is allocated to support businesses and the local economy was passed on to local authorities.

We have identified eligible accounts and have automatically applied this relief. If you believe you may be eligible, but have not received a revised bill reflecting the award of discretionary revaluation relief, please contact the Business Rates Team.

See further details of the discretionary revaluation relief scheme.

Relief for businesses losing Small Business or Rural Rate Relief following 2017 re-valuation

In the Spring Budget 2017, the Chancellor announced that a scheme of Relief would be made available to those ratepayers losing Small Business or Rural Rate Relief as a result of the 2017 revaluation will have their increases limited to the greater of either:

  • a cash value of £600 per year, or
  • the matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme

This relief will run for 5 years to 31 March 2022 and ratepayers will receive the relief until this date or they reach what their bill would have been within the relief scheme, whichever is first.

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Enterprise Zones business rates discounts

Part of York Central has been designated as an Enterprise Zone from April 2017. View a map showing the Enterprise Zone area.

Enterprise Zones are a key part of the government's strategy for enabling growth. Discounts in business rates offer substantial benefits to businesses choosing to locate to an Enterprise Zone. In turn, the business rates can be retained by the Local Enterprise Partnership for 25 years to re-invest in local economic growth.

Commercial occupiers entering the site before April 2022 may be eligible for a discount for a period of 5 years.

The Council’s Executive approved a policy for business rate relief in respect of the York Central Enterprise Zone on Thursday 18 May 2017.

A webcast of the 18 May 2017 Executive meeting is available to watch online, as well as details of the agenda items discussed.

Top of page


Acomb business development district

The Acomb area of York has been identified as a Business Development District from August 2014.

If you are looking to occupy an empty property in Acomb you may be eligible to additional business rate relief.

Top of page


Hardship relief

Councils may grant relief to a ratepayer who would suffer hardship if they paid the whole of the rates bill. As this relief is partly funded by the local council, we will usually only grant this relief where it is evident that it is in the interests of the community that the ratepayer remains in business if either of the following apply:

  • they provide a unique, regularly required amenity, such as a village general store
  • the loss of employment provided by a ratepayer would be severely damaging to the local community

Before we'll consider granting this relief you will need to provide:

  • a written request for hardship relief
  • copies of audited accounts

See our guidelines for business rates relief on grounds of hardship.

The award of this relief must comply with Subsidy rules. See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Transitional Relief Scheme

For those that would otherwise see significant increases in their rates liability, the government has put in place a £3.6 billion transitional relief scheme to limit and phase in changes in rate bills as a result of the 2017 revaluation.

To help pay for the limits on increases in bills, there also have to be limits in reductions in bills. Under the transition scheme, limits continue to apply to yearly increases and decreases until the full amount is due (rateable value times the appropriate multiplier). The scheme applies only to the bill based on a premises at the time of the revaluation.

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. Large rises are restricted so businesses are not suddenly asked to pay much larger amounts and this is offset by limiting big gains where businesses would have to pay significantly less.

If there are any changes to the rateable value after 1 April 2017, transitional arrangements will not normally apply to the part of a bill that relates to any increase or decrease due to those changes. Changes to your bill as a result of other reasons (such as changes to the amount of small business rate relief) are not covered by the transitional arrangements.

We will automatically calculate any transitional relief against your business rates bill, there is no need to apply for it.

See further information about the Transitional Relief Scheme (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Properties in partial occupation

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

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

If you're eligible then the Valuation Office Agency 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.

See further information about business rates property exemptions and reliefs.

Top of page


Subsidies, formerly State Aid

Following the UK withdrawal from the European Union, the Brexit transition period has ended and new rules on subsidy control now apply. Subsidies have replaced State Aid.

A subsidy is given by a public authority. This can be at any level: central, devolved, regional or local government or a public body.

A subsidy makes a contribution (this could be a financial or an in kind contribution) to an enterprise, conferring an economic advantage that is not available on market terms. Examples of a contribution are grants, loans at below market rate, or a loan guarantee at below market rate or allowing a company to use publicly owned office space rent free. An enterprise is anyone who puts goods or services on a market. An enterprise could be a government department or a charity if they are acting commercially.

A subsidy affects international trade. This can be trade with any World Trade Organisation member or, more specifically, between the UK and a country with whom it has a Free Trade Agreement. For example, if the subsidy is going towards a good which is traded between the UK and the EU this could affect trade between the EU and the UK. Please note that you are not being asked whether the subsidy could harm trade but merely whether there could be some sort of effect. Subsidies to very local companies or a small tourist attraction are unlikely to be caught as this is unlikely to affect international trade.

See further information regarding Subsidies (GOV.UK).

Top of page


Also see

Business Rates

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Telephone: 01904 551140