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Circumstances for business rate reductions and relief's

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There are certain circumstances in which full rates may not payable.

  • When a property is empty
  • Where the occupier qualifies for small business rate relief
  • When the occupier is a charity
  • Where the occupier is a community amateur sports club
  • Where the occupier is a "not for profit" organisation
  • Certain properties which are located within a designated rural area
  • Where hardship relief is appropriate
  • Where the property is not fully occupied
  • Newly built unoccupied properties that completed after the 1 October 2013 and before 30 September 2016 subject to state-aid limits


Registered charities, which use premises for charitable purposes, are generally entitled to 80% relief from rates. This includes charity shops, provided that the goods sold are wholly or mainly donated.

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

If the relevant conditions are met, this relief is mandatory, it must be granted.

Community amateur sports clubs (CASCs)

Sport clubs registered as community amateur sports clubs with the Inland Revenue qualify for 80% relief.

Further details on how to register as a CASC can be found on the HMRC website or by writing to:

Inland Revenue Charities
Sports Club Unit
St John's House
L69 9BB

Relief for non profit making organisations

Councils may also grant discretionary relief to certain other non-profit-making bodies, e.g. sports clubs and community associations.

We have the discretion to 'top-up' any mandatory relief to a maximum 100% relief but as any additional relief is paid for by the council tax payers it will only be granted if the organisation benefits local residents. From the 1 April 2012 the council may also grant up to 100% relief to any ratepayer.

Please note any discretionary relief awarded is subject to state aid limits, for further guidance please see the GOV.UK state aid pages.

Rural rate relief

This was introduced from 1 April 1998 to allow for relief for certain types of properties, which lie within a designated rural settlement.

Properties which qualify are:

  • Properties, which operate as the sole general, store or post office in a qualifying rural settlement, and have a rateable value of less than £8,500
  • Properties which operate as the sole public house or petrol filling station within a qualifying rural settlement and have a rateable value of £12,500 or less

The relief is 50% and fully funded by central government.  From the 1 April 2017 the 50% award will be doubled to 100% for those that meet the qualifying criteria, with the cost met by central government.

The council has the discretion to 'top up' this relief and the scheme also gives the council discretion to allow relief for other business premises in rural settlements if:

  • The rateable value of the property is £16,500 or less
  • The property is used for purposes which are of benefit to the local community
  • To allow relief with regards to the interests of those who pay council tax to the council (since the relief is partly funded from council tax receipts)

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 because either:

  • he/she provides a unique, regularly required amenity, for example a village general store
  • or the loss of employment provided by a ratepayer would be severely damaging to the local community

Before the council will consider granting this relief, a written request must be made and copies of audited accounts supplied.

Please note any hardship relief awarded is subject to state aid limits, for further guidance please visit the GOV.UK state aid pages.

General applications for relief

From April 2012, we can award discretionary rate relief to any ratepayer subject to state aid limits.

In making a judgement, we will balance the interests of the individual ratepayer or small community against that of council tax payers in general, taking into consideration local factors, and whether the council's financial position allows for a reduction to be made.

Examples of these factors would be:

  • the impact on local employment of the potential decline / loss of existing business
  • opportunities for local development and regeneration
  • increased employment by encouraging businesses into the area

Properties in partial occupation

If a property is temporarily only partly occupied, it is not always possible or necessary to create two separate properties in the rating list. For example, where a company phases its removal from one set of premises to another, or where the use of property is temporarily restricted by flood or fire. In these cases it would be inappropriate to have the rating list amended because the circumstances are not permanent.

We can ask the valuation office to determine the rateable values of the occupied and unoccupied parts.

The rates payable on each part can then be worked out and relief is granted so that the ratepayer only pays the full rates for the occupied part plus the rates for the unoccupied part. (If an exemption applies to the unoccupied part, however, then nothing is payable for that part.)

This relief is given as laid down in section 44a of the local government finance act 1988 and is subject to state aid limits.

The relief is granted either to the end of the financial year or to the date on which the property ceases to be only partly occupied, whichever is the earlier. This relief can only be extended in exceptional circumstances.

New build empty property relief

The government have introduced as a temporary measure the power for Local Authorities to grant an exemption to unoccupied non domestic hereditaments that are wholly or mainly composed of new structures that are completed after the 1 October 2013 and before the 30 September 2016 subject to state aid limits.

For guidance please view the GOV.UK state aid pages.

For further information on this exemption and to obtain details on how to apply please contact our section:

  • Email:
  • Telephone: 01772 906972
  • Address: Revenues and Benefits, PO Box 30, Town Hall, Lancaster Road, Preston, PR1 2GD

Telecom Fibre Optics Relief

There will be 100% rate relief for new fibre infrastructure for a five-year period from 1 April 2017 to support the rollout of new full-fibre broadband and infrastructure and future 5G communications to homes and businesses. 

The legislation detailing this relief is yet to be finalised.

Local Newspaper Relief

There will be a £1,500 rates discount available for office space occupied by local newspapers. 

This will be for a maximum of one discount per local newspaper and per hereditament for 2 years from 1 April 2017 subject to state de minimis guidelines. 

This relief is funded by central government.

Public House Relief

During the spring budget of 2017 the chancellor announced a £1,000 business rate discount for public houses with a Rateable Value of up to £100,000 for the financial year beginning 1 April 2017, this has subsequently been extended to include the 2018/19 financial year.

The award is subject to State aid de minimis regulations.

Retail Discount

Under the Local Government Finance Act 1988, local authorities can grant a temporary discount to all occupied retail properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000 which will total a third of the bill after Mandatory and non-locally funded discretionary relief's have been applied.

The discount will apply to properties that are wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments in 2019-20 financial year.

The discount is awarded under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 as amended by the Localism Act 2003 and is subject to State Aid de Minimis limits. 

For more details you can download the Icon for pdf Retail discount scheme [48.67KB] document.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government announced the Expanded Retail Discount which was extended to include those businesses in the hospitality and leisure industry, removed the Rateable Value limit and increased the discount to 100% without being subject to State aid de minimus limits for the 20/21 financial year.

The expanded retail discount was continued into the 21/22 financial year and carried a 100% discount from 1st April 2021 to 30th June 2021 followed by a 66% discount for 1st July 2021 to 31st March 2022 subject to a cap of £2,000,000 if your business was required to close as at 5th January 2021 or £105,000 if your business was permitted to stay open at that date (please note there is also a total cumulative cap of £2,000,000 for all of your properties).

Nursery Discount

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the government announced that it would provide support for properties that are occupied by child care providers on Ofsted's Early Years register for the 20-21 financial year. Under the scheme the amount of discount is 100% and there is no rateable value limit on the relief.

On 3 March 2021, the government confirmed that it will continue to provide eligible nursery properties in England with 100% business rates relief from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66% business rates relief for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, capped at £105,000 per business.

Revaluation Support Relief

The Government announced on 8 March 2017 that it would make available a discretionary fund of £300 million over four years from 2017/18 to support those businesses that face the steepest increases in their business rates bills as a result of the revaluation.

Preston City Council has been allocated: 

  • 2020/21 -  £3,000
  • 2019/20 -  £20,000
  • 2018/19 -  £49,000
  • 2017/18 -  £101,000

These funds will be distributed by Preston City Council on a discretionary basis to those ratepayers who have seen a net increase of more than £600 from the 16/17 year and have a Rateable Value below £200,000.

Certain ratepayers are not eligible for the relief - for full details on the relief please download the Icon for pdf Revaluation Support Discretionary Rate Relief policy 2017 [25.84KB] document.

Applications for reductions and relief's

The following information below, shows the downloadable application forms with their relevant documents.

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