Business rates - reductions

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Reliefs and Reductions

A number of reliefs and reductions are available.

Empty Properties

To qualify as empty, a property must be completely empty or out of use.

Most properties that have been empty no longer receive relief from rates. However, some empty properties are still exempt from rates. These include:

  • Properties that are empty for less than three months
  • Industrial premises that are empty for less than six months
  • Properties that are held by a liquidator or representative of a bankrupt or deceased person
  • Properties where a company is in administration
  • Listed buildings and ancient monuments
  • Any "small" properties, ie with a rateable value below £2900
  • Properties where occupation is prohibited by law
  • Properties owned by charities or community amateur sports clubs

Once the exempt period has expired, there will be no relief and 100% of the rates will be payable.

Transitional Relief

The purpose of transitional relief is to phase in gradually any changes to your rates following a revaluation. All properties are revalued every 5 years (most recent revaluation 1 April 2017). After a revaluation, many ratepayers see their rates rise or fall significantly. Without transitional relief, it would be very difficult for businesses to plan ahead.

To calculate your transitional relief we will take the amount of rates you paid last year (called your "base liability") and apply a percentage (called an "appropriate fraction") which is prescribed by the government. We then adjust this to take account of the rate of inflation. The result is to limit the amount by which your rates can increase or decrease each year.

The transitional relief rules are very complex and this is only a simplified summary. For a fuller explanation contact us by email, or speak to a properly qualified rating adviser.

Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs

Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs are entitled to a reduction of 80% in their rates, as long as the property in question is being used for charitable purposes. In some cases, generally where charities are local rather than national or international, we may also grant up to a further 20% rate relief.

Complete the relief form to claim rate relief. The form must be signed. Please make sure that you also enclose proof of the charity's registration with the Charities Commission.

Non Profit-Making Organisations

We have discretion to grant rate relief to certain non profit-making organisations such as sports clubs and educational institutions. All applications for rate relief are considered by the elected members of the council. They will have regard to whether the organisation provides benefits to the local community. When considering an application for discretionary relief we will look at certain criteria.

Complete the relief form to claim rate relief. The form must be signed. Please make sure that you enclose a copy of the organisation's constitution or rulebook.

Properties in Rural Areas

Some village shops, post offices, petrol filling stations and pubs attract rate relief. To qualify, the property must be in a rural settlement.

If a shop or post office is the only one within the rural settlement, and it has a rateable value below £8,500, it will automatically qualify for rate relief. For petrol filling stations and pubs to qualify the rateable value must be below £12,500. Other types of business may also qualify, as long as they are of benefit to the local community. The council has set out a rural rate relief policy.

Relief form for rate relief for general stores, post offices, public houses and petrol filling stations.

If you think your business may be entitled to rate relief, please let us know by email.

Small Business Rate Relief

If you are a small business you may be entitled to small business rate relief.

Retail Rate Relief

At Autumn Budget 2018, the Government announced a one-third discount for eligible retail businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, up to state aid limits. This scheme will run for two years from April 2019.

This discount will be applied to the bill after the application of any reliefs, excluding any local discounts.

Local Newspaper Relief

From 1 April 2017 the Government is providing funding to local authorities so that they can provide a discount for office space occupied by local newspapers. This discount is worth £1,500 and is available in 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20.

The relief applies to local newspapers only, the property must be occupied by a local newspaper and used wholly or mainly as offices for journalists and reports, only one discount is available per newspapers title and per property and the relief is subject to State Aid limits.

If you think your business may be entitled to Local Newspaper Relief, please let us know by email.

Supporting Small Businesses Relief

The Supporting Small Businesses relief will ensure that the increase per year in the bills of these ratepayers is limited to the greater of:

  • A percentage increase p.a. of 5%, 7.5%, 10%, 15% and 15% from 2017/18 to 2021/22 all plus inflation. Unlike the transitional relief scheme, for the first year of the scheme the percentage increase is taken against the bill for 31 March 2017 after small business rate relief or rural rate relief; or
  • A cash value of £600 per year. This cash minimum increase ensures that those ratepayers paying nothing or very small amounts in 2016/17 after small business rate relief now have to pay something.

To qualify:

  • Must have been in receipt of Small Business Relief/Rural Rate Relief at 31 March 2017; and
  • The daily charge for 1 April 2017 (after transition) is more than daily rate for 31 March 2017.

If the ratepayer was receiving Small Business Relief extension due to taking on an additional property they will be eligible for the remainder of the 12 month extension period.

In the first year of the scheme, this means all ratepayers losing some or all of their small business rate relief or rural rate relief will see the increase in their bill capped at £600. The cash minimum increase is £600 per year thereafter. This means that ratepayers who are currently paying nothing under small business rate relief and are losing all of their entitlement to relief (i.e. moving from £6,000 rateable value or less to more than £15,000) would under this scheme be paying £3,000 in year 5.

Properties eligible for charity or Community Amateur Sports Club relief or hereditaments which are unoccupied are not eligible for Supporting Small Businesses Relief.

The Supporting Small Businesses scheme will help those ratepayers who, as a result of the change in their rateable value at the revaluation, are losing some or all of their small business or rural rate relief and, as a result, are facing large increases in their bills.

The Council will automatically notify ratepayers who are eligible for this relief by 30 September 2017. If you have not been notified, and believe you are eligible, please contact the Business Rates section on 01732 876338 or email us giving your reasons.

Discretionary Fund Relief

To support businesses in the local area, a £300m discretionary fund has been established from 2017/18. Each local authority has been awarded a share of this fund, and for Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, this fund will be spread across the four years from 2017/18 as follows:

  • £338,000 in 2017/18
  • £164,000 in 2018/19
  • £68,000 in 2019/20
  • £10,000 in 2020/21

To ensure the maximum amount of relief is awarded each year, a policy has been created to help those businesses most in need of support. Eligible businesses will be those facing a 2% increase in their rates (plus up to £250 as a de minimis level for administration purposes), subject to certain exceptions as outlined in our policy.

To apply, please complete the form and return it to the address shown.

In the interests of distributing this relief as quickly as possible, the Council proposes to distribute the available funding as set out above straight away, subject to return of the attached form. However, should you have any proposals as to an alternative method of distributing this relief, please contact the Business Rates section on 01732 876338 or email us setting out those proposals.