Business rates reductions, discounts and exemptions

Retail Discount

Criteria for entitlement to Expanded Retail Discount

Qualifying properties

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 & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

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

1. Properties 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, chemist, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets etc.)
  • Charity shops
  • Opticians
  • Post Offices
  •  Furnishing shops/display rooms (such as carpet shops, double glazing, and garage doors)
  • Car/Caravan showrooms
  • Second hand car lots
  • Markets
  • Petrol stations
  • Garden centres
  • Art galleries (where art is for sale or hire).

2. Properties being used for the provision of the following services to the visiting members of the public:

  • Hair and beauty services (such as hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, tattoo parlours and body-piercing services)
  • Shoe repairs/key cutting
  • Travel agents
  • Ticket offices e.g. for theatre (where separately rated)
  • 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.

3. Properties 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. Properties which are being used as cinemas.

5. Properties 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 (e.g. the sale/supply of alcohol to audience members).

(ii) Do not affect the fact that the primary activity for the premises is the performance of live music (e.g. because those other activities are insufficiently regular or frequent, such as a polling station or a fortnightly community event).

6. Properties 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.

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

  • Public halls
  • Clubhouses, clubs and institutions.

8. Properties where the non-domestic part is being used for the provision of living accommodation as a business:

We consider hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation to mean:

  • Hotels, Guest and Boarding Houses
  • Holiday homes
  • Caravan parks and sites.

To qualify for the relief the hereditament should be wholly or mainly being used for the above qualifying purposes. Therefore, hereditaments which are occupied but not wholly or mainly used for the qualifying purpose will not qualify for the relief.

Properties which have closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID19 will be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief.

Non-qualifying properties

1. Properties that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public are not included in the Retail Discount Scheme:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, and pawn brokers)
  •  Medical services (e.g. vets, doctors, dentists, osteopaths, chiropodists, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents, financial advisers)
  • Post office sorting offices.

2. Properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public.

How much relief will be available?

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.

The total amount of government-funded relief available for each property for 2020/21 under this scheme is 100% of the bill, after mandatory reliefs and, other discretionary reliefs funded by section 31 grants have been applied, excluding those where the local authority has used their wider discretionary relief powers introduced by the Localism Act which are not funded by section 31 grants.

State Aid

Whilst the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by the Government and the EU provides that during a transition period State aid rules will continue to apply as now and will be subject to control by the EU Commission as at present.

The Government has notified the EU of its intention to bring forward an immediate change to the UK’s tax treatment of non-domestic property, in response to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, and to seek clearance under Article 107(3) (b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Subject to this approval, the Expanded Retail Discount scheme will become a notified State aid.