Find out more about discounts, exemptions and relief for business rates.
As part of the Spring Budget on 8 March 2017 the Chancellor announced that the government would provide relief to support those businesses most affected by the business rate revaluation which took effect from 1 April 2017.
Full details of this relief are in section 4 of council's guidelines.
The scheme for Year 3 (2019 to 2020) will mirror the scheme previously agreed for Year 1 (2017 to 2018). Applicants who have received relief in Year 1 or 2 of the scheme (ie 2017 to 2018 or 2018 to 2019), will not be eligible to apply for additional relief in Year 3 (2019 to 2020).
The scheme will allow any business that is occupying a property (ie no relief for empty properties) with a rateable value above £100,000, and has had an increase in their business rate net liability above 20% due to the revaluation, to apply for relief under the scheme. The property must be currently occupied and occupied consistently since at least 31 March 2017. Funding to be limited to the EU state aid limit.
Consideration needs to be given as to whether the applicant has shown that:
A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, the local authority has discretion in certain cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. Full details can be obtained from the business rates office.
Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to 6 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. If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of your bill.
Ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £50,999 (and who are not entitled to other mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates) will have their bills calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier, rather than the national non-domestic rating multiplier.
In addition, generally, if the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with a rateable value which does not exceed £15,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 100%. For a property with a rateable value of not more than £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a 100% reduction in their rates bill.
Generally, this percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either-
(a) one property, or
(b) one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,899.
The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £19,999 outside London or £27,999 in London on each day for which relief is being sought. If the rateable value, or aggregate rateable value, increases above those levels, relief will cease from the day of the increase.
The Government has introduced additional support to small businesses. For those businesses that take on an additional property which would normally have meant the loss of small business rate relief, the Government has confirmed that they will be allowed to keep that relief for a period of 12 months.
An application for small business rate relief is not required. Where a ratepayer meets the eligibility criteria and has not received the relief they can apply by downloading this form. Provided the ratepayer continues to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time as regards the property and the ratepayer, they will automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period.
Certain changes in circumstances will need to be notified to the local authority by a ratepayer who is in receipt of relief (other changes will be picked up by the local authority). The changes which should be notified are-
(a) the ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and
(b) an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief.
Charities and registered CASCs are entitled to 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity or the CASC and is wholly or mainly used for the charitable purposes of the charity, or for the purposes of the CASC.
The local authority has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill. Read the Guidelines for discretionary rate relief for charities (PDF, 514KB)
The local authority has discretion to give relief to non-profit making organisations.
In the Autumn Budget 2018 the Government announced a new Retail Relief which will be available for the years 2019/20 and 2020/21. This relief will be delivered through Westminster City Council’s discretionary discount powers (under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988).
Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments with a rateable value of less than £51,000, that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, café’s and drinking establishments.
Application forms were sent out January 2019 to the ratepayers that have been identified as retail based. If you did not receive a form and you believe that you qualify for this relief, please contact the Business Rates department on 0208 315 2050 to discuss your account or download the application form. You can also find details of the qualifying criteria and the types of business which do not qualify under the government’s guidelines using this form.
The award of the relief is classed as State Aid and the City Council must comply with European Commission State Aid legislation. The application form requires your organisation’s confirmation that the granting of Retail relief will not result in your organisation exceeding the State Aid threshold of €200,000 over the last three years (De Minimus Regulations EC 1407/2013).Further information on State Aid law can be found at https://www.gov.uk/state-aid.
Further guidance on Retail Relief can be found at GOV.UK.
The government has put in place regulations to allow for the cancellation of certain backdated business rate liabilities. The relevant regulations, the Non-Domestic Rating (Cancellation of Backdated Liabilities) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/537) can be found on the legislation website. Learn more about Business Rates information letters.