Exemptions and reliefs for business rates

Retail rate relief

On 5 December 2013, in its Autumn Statement, the Government announced that some occupied retail properties would be eligible for £1,000 business rates relief for each of the financial years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. Detailed guidance was issued by the government on 27 January 2014.

Please note that this relief ends on 31 March 2016 as is not applicable from 01 April 2016 onwards.

On 3 December 2014, in its autumn statement, the government announced an increase to £1,500 from £1,000 for the amount of relief applicable for the financial year 2015-2016.

It is for each council to design and adopt its own local scheme, so that they can consider and include its wider objectives for a local area.

To qualify for retail rate relief, the property must be a retail property which is:

  • occupied, and wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments. (see types of property below)
  • has a rateable value of £50,000 or lower, and
  • is not among the type of retailer which the government believes should not qualify for the relief
  • is occupied by an organisation classed as a SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) - an SME must have less than 250 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding £40m and
  • where the relief awarded to the ratepayer nationally does not breach the State Aid limit of £200,000 over a 3 year period.
Unoccupied shops do not qualify for the relief, but further measures are being introduced to encourage businesses to re-occupy empty premises that have been empty for more than a year.

The types of property that can qualify for retail rate relief

1. Properties being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public, eg

a. Shops (such as florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, chemists, supermarkets, newsagents)
b. Charity shops
c. Opticians
d. Post offices
e. Furnishing shops/display rooms (such as carpet shops)
f. Car showrooms
g. Second hand car lots
h. Markets
i. Petrol stations
j. Garden centres
k. Craft Shops
l. Art galleries

2. Properties being used for the provision of certain services to visiting members of the public, eg

m. Hair & beauty services (such as hair dressers, nail bars, tanning shops etc)
n. Shoe repairs/key cutting
o. Travel agents
p. Dry cleaners
q. Laundrettes
r. PC/TV/domestic appliance repair
s. Funeral directors
t. Photo processing
u. DVD/video rentals
v. Tool hire
w. Car hire

3. Properties being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public, eg

x. Restaurants (excluding takeaways - see below for definition and exclusions)
y. Sandwich shops
z. Coffee shops
aa. Pubs
bb. Wine bars

This list is not definitive, and other businesses who are of a similar type to those listed above may also qualify for the local business rate relief.

Properties which do not qualify for retail relief

1. Financial services

a. Banks
b. Building societies
c. Cash points
d. Bureau de change
e. Payday lenders
f. Betting shops
g. Pawnbrokers
h. Properties that may bring the scheme / area into disrepute

2. Other services

i. Estate agents
j. Letting agents
k. Employment agencies

3. Medical services

l. Vets
m. Dentists
n. Doctors
o. Osteopaths
p. Chiropractors

4. Professional services

q. Solicitors
r. Accountant
s. Insurance agents/financial advisers
t. Tutors

The council will also exclude takeaways from obtaining the relief.

Takeaways - definition and exclusions
A takeaway is an establishment where hot food is prepared for consumption elsewhere. Such establishments, unless they operate a seated service (please see below), will be excluded from obtaining retail rate relief, reoccupation retail relief and local business rate relief.
  • Pizza / pasta
  • Kebabs
  • Burgers
  • Fried or coated chicken
  • Ribs
  • Indian / tandoori
  • Chinese / noodle / wok
  • Thai
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese
  • Fish and chips
  • Snack bars / kiosks
The above list is not exhaustive and is cited for illustrative purposes only; other premises being broadly comparable will be treated as such and excluded.

The council (where necessary) will visit to make a determination as to whether a premise will be excluded from obtaining the reliefs.

Premises operating a seated service with table seating of 10 or more will be categorised as a restaurant for the purposes of obtaining any retail rate relief, reoccupation retail relief and local business rate relief.

The above premises remain entitled to any statutory rate reliefs such as small business rate relief.

Amount of relief
The amount of the relief is limited to a maximum of £1,000 per year for 2 years, apportioned on a daily basis where appropriate. The relief will be applied against the net bill, after all other forms of relief, if applicable, have been awarded.

Where the amount that is owed, after all other forms of relief have been applied, is less than £1,000, the amount of the relief is limited to the total amount due.

Application process
An application form is available for you to complete and email back to us.

Appeals
An applicant can ask for a review of a decision not to award retail rate relief.

A request for a review must be made within four weeks of notification of the decision and must set out the reasons for the request and any supporting information. Any review will be considered by a different council officer.

If the decision remains unchanged then there is the right to appeal, which will be heard by a panel formed of Councillors. All decisions are reported to the Housing, Economy and Business Committee. In reporting the outcome to the committee, papers and documentation provided may be disclosed. In some circumstances information provided in connection with an application may also be required to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.

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