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Business rate reliefs and exemptions

We offer several business rate reliefs and exemptions to help you reduce your business rates.

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.

The exemption is Property based opposed to account based, therefore changes in business rates liability do not trigger a new period of empty exemption.

In addition, there are a number of exemptions available from the empty property rate.

Properties exempt from unoccupied property rate

Occupation prohibited by law

An unoccupied property is exempt where its owner is prohibited by law from occupying it or allowing it to be occupied. This situation may arise where we have taken legal action to prevent occupation on the grounds of a risk to health and/or safety

Listed Buildings

A building which is the subject of a building preservation notice, or which is included in a list of buildings of specific architectural or historic interest, is exempt.

Ancient monuments

Exemption extends to property which are included in a schedule of monuments.

Minimum rateable value

Property with a rateable value of less than £2,900 are exempt.

Personal representatives of deceased persons

A property is exempt where the owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person.

Insolvency and debt administration

Exemption from liability on unoccupied property also applies in the following situations (where governed by the appropriate legislation):

  • Where there exists in respect of the owner's estate a bankruptcy order
  • Where the owner is entitled to possession of the property in his capacity as trustee under a deed of arrangement
  • Where the owner is a company which is subject to a winding up order or which is being wound up voluntarily
  • Where the owner is entitled to possession of the property in the capacity of a liquidator

If you think you should be receiving this reduction and it is not present on your business rates bill, please apply by contacting your local area.

This relief is aimed at helping small businesses where they are not entitled to another mandatory relief. Relief is based on the Rateable Value (RV) of your business premises in the relevant valuation period.

Who qualifies?

Businesses that occupy only one property in England and have an RV of less than £15,000 (£12,000 prior to April 2017).

If a business becomes liable for Business Rates for a second property, they may keep getting any existing relief on their main property for 12 months. Businesses may continue to qualify after the 12 months noted above if they occupy one main property and other additional properties, providing that the additional properties do not have individual RVs of more than £2,899 (£2,599 prior to April 2017) and the combined RV of all the properties is under £20,000 (£18,000 prior to April 2017).

Businesses that qualify for small business rate relief when they occupy more than one property, can only be granted relief on the main property.

Relief amount

Relief is on a sliding scale.

From April 2010 to 31 March 2017 properties with an RV of up to £6,000 receive 100 per cent relief.

Properties with an RV between £6,000 and £12,000, will receive tapered relief and relief will gradually reduce from 100 per cent at £6,000 to 0 per cent at £12,000.

From 1 April 2017 Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) will double and the thresholds will increase to benefit a greater number of businesses.

Properties with an RV of up to £12,000 will receive 100 per cent relief.

Properties with an RV between £12,000 and £15,000 will receive tapered relief and relief will gradually reduce from 100 percent at £12,000 to 0 percent at £15,000.

If you think you should be receiving this reduction and it is not present on your business rates bill, please apply by contacting your local area.

A rural settlement is defined as a settlement with a population of no more than 3,000 which is wholly or partly within a council's defined rural settlement area.

The rural rate relief scheme

The Rural Rate scheme was introduced to help protect the last retail outlets and similar services in rural settlements with a population of less than 3,000.

Under the scheme the following businesses in designated rural settlements are entitled to 50 per cent mandatory rate relief:

  • the sole village shop or post office with a rateable value of up to £8,500
  • the sole public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500

We have a discretionary power to award 100 per cent rural rate relief to eligible business ratepayers.

We will automatically award 100 per cent rural rate relief if your property meets the eligibility criteria and apply it to your bill. We do, however, require you to make a "De Minimis" Declaration in relation to Subsidy Allowance to confirm the award of the relief.

If you think you should be receiving this reduction and it is not present on your business rates bill, please apply by contacting your local area.

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 have the discretion to reduce the bill further.

We can also give relief to certain bodies not established or conducted for profit. This is a discretionary relief. The purpose of the organisation applying for the relief must be philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts.

If you think you should be receiving this reduction and it is not present on your business rates bill, please apply by contacting your local area.

Section 44a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 enables us to grant relief on business premises that are partly occupied, as long as this situation is for 'a short time only'.

The situation must be happening at the present time, so retrospective claims cannot be considered.

This is a discretionary power, and we must be satisfied that the property is part occupied before requesting a certificate of apportionment from the Valuation Office Agency, which determines the rateable value for both the occupied and unoccupied parts of the property.

In order to apply for S44a relief, the ratepayer must put a request in writing to the authority, including a plan of the property clearly marking the areas that are occupied and unoccupied. A plan will also be required to show how it is intended to bring the unoccupied part back into use and within what timescales.

A visit will then be arranged to view the premises and confirm the details of the plan. If the relief is agreed upon, then a request will be sent to the Valuation Office Agency for a certificate. Once this is received and processed, an amended bill will be sent to the ratepayer reflecting the relief granted.

The relief will end at the expiry of the 'short period', depending upon the circumstances of the case, or at the end of the financial year if that is sooner.

Requests must be made in writing to the Business Rates Team at:
•    Former Daventry District Council area: [email protected]
•    Former Northampton Borough Council area: [email protected] 
•    Former South Northamptonshire Council area: [email protected]

Sometimes there are exceptional circumstances where we can reduce or remit the amount of Non-Domestic Rates you pay if you would suffer hardship if we don't and it is the best interests of our Council Tax payers.

This is in accordance with Section 49 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

Who can apply for hardship relief?

We can award hardship relief to any ratepayer.

How is the decision made?

We treat all applications on their own merit and will consider several factors before making our decision including:

  • your current circumstances
  •  why you need hardship relief
  • the 'interests' of our council tax payers. We consider the community financial interests and employment prospects.

You must provide evidence of your hardship to support your application. This must include a copy of your last three year's audited accounts or trading accounts, but may also include bank statements and cash flow statements or any other evidence you think is relevant to your application.

Requests must be made in writing to the Business Rates Team at:
•    Former Daventry District Council area: [email protected]
•    Former Northampton Borough Council area: [email protected] 
•    Former South Northamptonshire Council area: [email protected]

The business rates retail relief scheme applies to occupied retail properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000 in each of the financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21. For 2019-20 the value of relief is one third of the bill, for 2020-21 the value of relief is half of the bill. In both instances the relief must be applied after mandatory reliefs and other discretionary reliefs funded by section 31 grants have been applied.

Please note due to Covid-19 the Expanded Retail, Leisure and Hospitality Rate Relief scheme supersedes the Retail Rate Relief scheme for 2020-21 and 2021/22 and means that applicable businesses will receive 100 per cent relief for 2020/21, 100 percent for the first three months of 2021/22, followed by 66% for the remainder of 2021/22.

The 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief Scheme will provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 50% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.

We will automatically award relief if we consider the property meets the eligibility criteria.

Qualifying properties must be:

  • occupied hereditaments with a rateable value of less than £51,000 and wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments
  • ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties, subject to Subsidy Allowance De Minimis limits
  • hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:
    • Shops (such as: florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets, etc)
    • Charity shops
    • Opticians
    • Post offices
    • Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
    • Car/ caravan show rooms
    • Second hand car lots
    • Markets
    • Petrol stations
    • Garden centres
    • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)
    • Hair and beauty services (such as: hair dressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc.)
    • Shoe repairs/ key cutting
    • Travel agents
    • Ticket offices, for example, for theatre
    • Dry cleaners
    • Launderettes
    • PC/ TV/ domestic appliance repair
    • Funeral directors
    • Photo processing
    • Tool hire
    • Car hire
  • or 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

Properties not eligible for relief

  • Financial services (banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
  • Other services (estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies)
  • Medical services (vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors)
  • Post office sorting offices

The 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief Scheme will provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 50% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.

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

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

Ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties.

Relief available

From 1 April 2022 to 2023 the value of relief should be 50% of the bill and must be applied after mandatory reliefs and other discretionary reliefs funded by section 31 grants have been applied.

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, etc)
  • Charity shops
  • Opticians
  • Post offices
  • Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
  • Car/ caravan show rooms
  • Second hand car lots
  • Markets
  • Petrol stations
  • Garden centres
  • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)

Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:

  • Hair and beauty services (such as: hair dressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc.)
  • Shoe repairs/ key cutting
  • Travel agents
  • Ticket offices such as for theatre
  • Dry cleaners
  • Launderettes
  • PC/ TV/ domestic appliance repair
  • Funeral directors
  • Photo processing
  • Tool hire
  • Car hire
  • Employment agencies
  • Estate agents and letting agents
  • Betting shops

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

Hereditaments which are being used as cinemas.

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 are merely ancillary or incidental to the performance of live music (such as the sale/supply of alcohol to audience members) or 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.

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

Hereditaments that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public.

  • Public halls
  • Clubhouses, clubs and institutions

Properties not eligible for relief

Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public

  • Financial services (such as banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
  • Medical services (such as vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (such as solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, employment agencies, estate agents, letting agents)
  • Post office sorting offices

Hereditaments that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

The scheme is available for the 2020/21 financial year to eligible occupied properties with a rateable value of less than £100,000. Where pubs are part of a chain, relief will be available for each eligible property in the chain, subject to meeting Subsidy Allowance requirements.

There is no definitive description of a traditional pub or public house in law, however the Government’s policy intention is that eligible pubs should:

  • 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

Properties not eligible for relief

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • nightclubs
  • hotels
  • snack bars
  • guesthouses
  • boarding houses
  • sporting venues
  • music venues
  • festival sites
  • theatres
  • museums
  • exhibition halls
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • casinos

Relief available

The amount of relief available is up to £1,000 for each eligible property. There is no relief available under this scheme for properties with a rateable value of £100,000 or more. Eligibility for the relief and the relief itself will be assessed and calculated on a daily basis.

This relief is applicable only for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.

100% relief was applicable for the 2020/21 financial year. At the Budget on Wednesday 3 March, 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Nursery and Retail Discount would be extended and that eligible ratepayers would receive a discount on their business rates bills for the year 2021/22 of 100% for the first three months and 66% for the remainder of the financial year.

In line with the conditions set by the Government for the funding of this relief, there is no cash cap on the amount of relief granted for the three month period at 100%, but a cash cap applies to the remaining nine months of the financial year at 66%.

About the discount

From 1 July 2021, ratepayers may claim up to £2 million per business in retail relief where the business is in occupation of a property that was required, or would have been required, to close on 5 January 2021 or £105,000 for other eligible properties (up to a cap of £2 million for all properties). No ratepayer can in any circumstances exceed the £2 million cash cap across all of their hereditaments in England.

For nurseries, the relief will be capped at £105,000 per business from 1 July 2021.

Additionally, this cash cap applies at a Group company level (so holding companies and subsidiaries cannot claim up to the cash cap for each company) and also to organisations which, although not a company, have such an interest in a company that they would if they were a company, result in its being the holding company.

Nursery Relief has been discontinued for 2022/23.

Retail Relief (expanded scheme) has been replaced by the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief scheme.

Apply for a discount

If after reading the guidance you believe your business or organisation does not exceed the cash cap limits and you want to apply for the Expanded Discount from 1 July 2021, please contact your local area:

Further details

On 25 March 2021 the government announced a new COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) of £1.5 billion to support those business rate payers affected by the pandemic but that are ineligible for existing support linked to business rates.

On 15 December 2021 the government published guidance on the operation of the fund and details of the funding allocation for each local authority. 

Each individual local council is responsible for designing the discretionary relief scheme that is to operate in their area, however, awards can only be made to reduce the chargeable business rates in 2021 to 2022 and the government has made clear that the following are ineligible for the Business Rates COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF):

  • ratepayers who for the same period of the relief either are or would have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering retail, hospitality and leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS)
  • for a period when a property is unoccupied (other than property which has become closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief)

West Northamptonshire Council has identified eligible recipients and distributed available CARF funding to respective accounts.  All affected accounts received a revised bill issued in March 2022 confirming the CARF award.

During the Budget on 27 October 2021, the Government announced a temporary measure to extend the current:

  • transitional relief scheme, and
  •  the supporting small business scheme

Individual billing authorities have to adopt a local scheme for 2022/2023.

The relief will be determined by the rateable value of the property you occupy, and the guidance set by Government.

We automatically applied these reliefs to those businesses that qualify.

Last updated 07 December 2022