Business rates exemptions, reliefs and reductions

You can find out more about how we grant business rate exemptions and discounts in our Discretionary Rate Relief Policy here (pdf)

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Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme

If your business is being used mainly as one of the following, you may be entitled to a reduction in the amount of business rates you pay:

  • Shop
  • Restaurant, café, bar or pub
  • Cinema or music venue
  • Hospitality or leisure business, such as a gym, spa or hotel

For the full list of businesses and more information about the scheme, please visit this government guidance.

Relief is determined in accordance with our2023-24 Retail Hospital and Leisure Business Rates Scheme policy.

Eligible occupied premises could get 75% off their business rates bill for the 2023 to 2024 tax year, up to a maximum of £110,000 per business. Ratepayers who occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each property up to the £110,000 limit.

Please note, we have automatically applied the relief to properties we think qualify. If your business meets the criteria, but hasn’t yet received the discount, please email

You can opt out of the relief for 2023-24 by completing the form below and returning it to us before April 30, 2023. Once you have refused the discount, you won’t be able to change your mind.

Refusal of 2023-24 retail hospital and leisure relief form

Transitional Relief

Transitional relief limits how much your bill can change each year as a result of business rates revaluation. The latest revaluation came into effect on 1 April 2023. This means changes to your bill are phased in gradually, if you’re eligible.

From the 2023 to 2024 tax year, you’ll get transitional relief if your property is in England and your rates go up by more than a certain amount.

We will adjust your bill automatically if the relief applies.

Further details are available on

Supporting small business relief

The Supporting Small Business scheme restricts the amount by which the rates payable may increase compared with that due for 2022/23 by £600 if you received small business rate relief or extended transitional and supporting small business rate relief in 2022/23.

Relief is determined in accordance with our 2023-24 Small Business Rate Relief Scheme policy.

Empty property

Most owners of non-domestic properties do not have to pay business rates on empty buildings for up to three months after they become vacant. Some industrial premises, (such as manufacturing, storage or mineral processing) are exempt for an initial six months.

After that, most businesses must pay full business rates. But some non-domestic properties which are completely empty may be eligible for a reduction in rates payable (empty rates).

Where a property is empty, the ratepayer will be the person liable to possession.

Some property is never considered empty for rating purposes, such as advertising rights. Some items may be disregarded when deciding whether a property is empty, such as plant and machinery.

Empty rate exemptions

In some situations, unoccupied premises can get extended empty property relief beyond the initial three or six months.

For example:

  • Properties left empty by charities or Community Amateur Sports Clubs – as long as the next use will be for the purposes of a charity or sports club
  • Listed buildings and ancient monuments
  • Properties with a low rateable value of under £2,800
  • If a property is undergoing major improvement works it isn’t entitled to an empty exemption, but the Valuation Office Agency may consider reducing the rateable value while work is carried out
  • If an owner is prohibited from entering a property or allowing it to be occupied, exemption may apply, depending on the specific reason and whether the property could be occupied for other means

Exemptions can also apply in certain cases where a property is empty and the ratepayer is:

  • Only entitled to possession as the representative of someone who has died
  • Bankrupt
  • Trustee under a deed of management
  • Subject to a winding up order
  • Entitled to possession in their capacity as a liquidator of a company
  • A company in administration

Part occupation relief (Section 44a relief)

Where a property is only part occupied for a short period of time, we have the discretionary power to request the VOA provide a certificate showing the occupied and empty rateable value proportions.
If part of a property is temporarily unoccupied, such as for a phased occupation or vacation of a property, you may be able to claim a reduction in your business rates for the unoccupied part. The area concerned must be totally unused (for example, not used as a walkway) and where possible isolated from the occupied area.

If you think you may be eligible for a reduction, you should write to the business rates department, enclosing various information in accordance with the information on page 46 of our Discretionary Rate Relief Policy.

Other ways to reduce your business rates bill

Charitable and not-for-profit relief
Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) may be entitled to between 80% and 100% rate relief. To qualify, the property must be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes or the purposes of the CASC.

This includes not-for-profit bodies whose main objects are charitable, philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, recreation, literature or the fine arts.

Mandatory relief will not be awarded where only a small portion of a property is used for these purposes.

Please contact the billing team on 01827 709530 for an application form if you wish to apply.

Small Business Rates Relief
Small properties with a rateable value of under £51,000 will generally qualify for a reduction in the rates payable. The multiplier for these properties will be lower than those with a larger rateable value. For example, in 2023/24, the multiplier for properties under £51,000 is 49.9 pence in the pound compared to 51.2 pence in the pound for larger properties. The higher multiplier continues to apply to empty properties or those in receipt of some other forms of relief. 

In addition, ratepayers may be awarded further small business rate relief where they only have one non-domestic property with a rateable value of under £15,000.

Where the rateable value is between £12,001 and £14,999, relief is awarded on a sliding scale. If the rateable value is £12,000 and below, there can be 100% rate relief.

There are circumstances where a ratepayer who owns more than one non-domestic rates property can qualify for relief, but the other properties must have a rateable value of under £2,900 and the total rateable value of all properties must be below £20,000. If a ratepayer in receipt of small business rate relief moves to an additional property, they may continue to qualify for that relief at the original property for up to a yea. Please contact the team at if you think this might apply to you.

You must notify us of any change that may affect your entitlement to small business rate relief within four weeks of that change.

Local newspaper relief
The £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspapers will apply until 31 March 2025.

If your bill shows any discretionary relief or discount, it is because we believe you’re entitled to the named reduction. The reduction will only run until the end of the financial year unless there is a change of circumstance which affects your entitlement.

If you feel you are not entitled or exceed the cash cap or subsidy control (see below), please notify us immediately so your account can be adjusted.

If you feel you may be entitled to a relief that is not showing, please complete the declaration below and return to

Business rates cash cap exemption threshold declaration

Cash cap and subsidy control
Under the cash cap, no ratepayer can exceed the £110,000 cash cap across all of their hereditaments in England. Where a ratepayer has a qualifying connection with another ratepayer, they should be considered as one ratepayer for the purposes of the cash caps. 

This applies where:

A) Both ratepayers are companies, and (i) one is a subsidiary of the other, or (ii) both are subsidiaries of the same company; or

B) Only one ratepayer is a company, the second ratepayer has such an interest in that company as would, if the second ratepayer were a company, result in its being the holding company of the other.

Under Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance rules, relief is limited to receive Special Drawing Rights (£343,000 as at December 9, 2021) in a three-year period (consisting of the 2023/24 year and the two previous financial years). Expanded Retail Discount granted in either 2020/21 or 2021/22 does not count towards the £343,000 allowance but BEIS business grants (throughout the three years) and any other subsidies claimed under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit will be counted.  Where it is clear that the ratepayer is likely to breach the cash cap or the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit, relief will be automatically withheld.

Further details can be found on the website.


The amount of relief may be recalculated in the event of a change in circumstances and applied at any time. Such changes may include the rateable value, the property becoming vacant or liability ending.

Reviews and Appeals
Where a ratepayer is disagrees with a decision regarding the granting, non-granting or the amount of discretionary rates relief, the case will be reviewed by the revenues manager. If the council’s decision is upheld (in part or in full), the case may be further reviewed by the council’s section 151 officer, whose decision will be final.

Where any ratepayer still remains aggrieved, the formal process to appeal is via Judicial Review.

Where a ratepayer falsely applies for any relief, provides false information, makes false representation, or withholds information in order to gain relief, prosecutions will be considered under the Fraud Act 2006.

Contact the team
For help regarding any of the above or any other forms of relief, please contact the team at