Reliefs and Exemptions
There are a number of discounts and exemptions that can help to reduce the amount of rates that you have to pay
Retail Hospitality and Leisure Relief
At the Autumn Budget on 17 November 2022 the Chancellor announced an extension to the rate relief for retail, hospitality and leisure properties for 2023-24
The 2022-23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme provided eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 50% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.
The relief will continue for the 2023-24 financial year and will be increased to 75% for eligible businesses, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.
The increased relief will be applied automatically to business rates bills to be issued in March 2023. A letter and declaration will be enclosed with the bills. If you have received any other relief which may count towards the £110,000 limit, this must be declared on the form and returned to the business rates team. If you wish to refuse the relief you can complete and return the refusal form to us.
Larger companies and national chains will not have the relief applied automatically. If you believe you qualify for the relief please contact us when you receive your 2023-24 rates bill or complete the declaration
You can read the full guidance from Gov.UK here Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Guidance
Eligibility for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme
1. Hereditaments that meet the eligibility for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure scheme will be occupied hereditaments which meet all of the following conditions for the chargeable day:
a. they are wholly or mainly being used:
i. as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas or live music venues
ii. for assembly and leisure; or
iii. as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation
2. We consider shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues to mean:
i. Hereditaments 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, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets, etc)
- Charity shops
- Post offices
- Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
- Car/ caravan show rooms
- Second-hand car lots
- Petrol stations
- Garden centre
- Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)
ii. Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:
- Hair and beauty services (such as: hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc)
- Shoe repairs/ key cutting
- Travel agents
- Ticket offices e.g. for theatre
- Dry cleaners
- PC/ TV/ domestic appliance repair
- Funeral directors
- Photo processing
- Tool hire
- Car hire
iii. Hereditaments that are being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public:
- Sandwich shops
- Coffee shops
iv. Hereditaments which are being used as cinemas
v. Hereditaments 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).
3. We consider assembly and leisure to mean:
i. Hereditaments 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
- Sport and leisure facilities
- Stately homes and historic houses
- Tourist attractions
- Wellness centres, spas, massage parlours
- Casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls
ii. Hereditaments that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public:
- Public halls
- Clubhouses, clubs and institutions
4. We consider hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation to mean:
i. Hereditaments where the non-domestic part is being used for the provision of living accommodation as a business:
- 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. In a similar way to other reliefs (such as charity relief), this is a test on use rather than occupation. Therefore, hereditaments which are occupied but not wholly or mainly used for the qualifying purpose will not qualify for the relief.
The list below sets out the types of uses that the government does not consider to be an eligible use for the purpose of this discount.
i. Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:
- Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers, betting shops)
- Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
- Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, employment agencies, estate agents, letting agents)
- Post office sorting offices
ii. Hereditaments that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public
Supporting Small Business Relief
You can get supporting small business relief from 1 April 2023 if your business rates bill is going up after the next revaluation on 1 April 2023 and you'll lose some or all of your small business rate relief or rural rate relief as a result of an increase in your rateable value
If you're eligible, your bills will go up by no more than £600 for the 2023 to 2024 tax year.
The council will adjust your bill if you're eligible.
You can read the full guidance Supporting Small Business Relief Guidance and view the Torridge Policy here
Business Rates Heat Network Relief
In the Spring Statement 2022 the Chancellor announced that Heat Network Relief would be applied to separately rated hereditaments that are wholly or mainly used for the purposes of a heat network and who expect over the next 12 months the heat to be generated from a low carbon source
For the 2022/23 financial year, the relief was delivered using local government discretionary powers under Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.
This approach has been extended to the 2023/24 financial year.
You can find full details of the relief here: Business Rates Heat Network Relief
COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) 2021-22
On 25 March 2021 the government announced a new COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) of £1.5 billion to support those business rate payers affected by the pandemic but that are ineligible for existing support linked to business rates.
On 15 December 2021 the government published the COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund Local Authority Guidance and allocations.
Each council is responsible for designing the discretionary relief scheme that will operate in their area. Awards can only be made to reduce the chargeable business rates in 2021/22 and the government has made clear that the following will not be eligible for the Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF):
- ratepayers who for the same period of the relief either are or would have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering Retail, Hospitality and Leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS)
- for a period when a property is unoccupied (other than property which has become closed temporarily due to the government's advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief)
Awards are likely to amount to a Subsidy Allowance and therefore any relief provided under this scheme will need to comply with the UK's domestic and international subsidy control obligations.
There is no need for businesses to apply for this relief as the council has identified those businesses it will be supporting. The relief will be awarded through business rates accounts via our business rates system. Revised bills will then be issued showing the amount of relief awarded.
- This relief is payable in the 2021-22 financial year only.
- Businesses must not have been eligible for existing business rates relief schemes, are deemed to have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact.
- Businesses that have received Expanded Retail Relief or Nursery Discount or those which are unoccupied in 2021-22 are ineligible for CARF.
- Reliefs will be awarded after all other mandatory or discretionary reliefs have been applied.
To calculate the relief to be awarded, we have divided the £802,250 funding available, by the total liability of the eligible accounts. This determines the percentage of relief each account will receive, irrespective of their rateable value.
The CARF Scheme closed on 30 September 2022. Any residual funds remaining have now been distributed on a pro-rata basis to the original recipients of relief through this scheme.
Expanded Retail Discount 2021-22
At the Budget on 3 March 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Government would provide additional support for eligible retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England occupying a qualifying property
As a temporary measure for 2021/22 the Chancellor announced that:
• The Expanded Retail Discount (2020/21) would be extended for three months for eligible properties, at 100% relief, uncapped, for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.
• From 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, the Expanded Retail Discount would apply at 66% relief for eligible properties in the scheme, with a cash cap of £2m for businesses that were required to close as at 5 January 2021, and up to £105,000 for business permitted to open at that date.
• The Nursery Discount 2021 would also be extended for three months, at 100%, uncapped, for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.
• From 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 the Nursery Discount would apply at 66% relief for eligible properties, with a cash cap of £105,000.
• For the Expanded Retail Discount 2021/22 and Nursery Discount 2021/22, businesses may choose to opt out of support by providing billing authorities notification of their request to refuse support, per eligible hereditament.
Read more about the Expanded Retail Discount on the Gov.UK website
Small Business Rate Relief
Who can claim Small Business Rate Relief?
From 1 April 2017 any ratepayer who occupies a single non-domestic property within England, where the rateable value is less than £51,000 will be entitled to the following relief:
Rateable Value of main property
Amount of Small Business Rate Relief
£12,000 or less
£12,001 to £15,000
100% to 0% on a scale of 1% for every £30.00 RV over £12,000
£15,000 to £51,000
Small Business Rate Multiplier only
The small business non-domestic rate multiplier for 2023-24 is 49.9 pence in the pound
The national non-domestic rate multiplier for 2023-24 is 51.2 pence in the pound
Since 1 April 2017 eligible properties with rateable values between £15,001 and £50,999 automatically have their rates calculated using the lower Small Business Rate multiplier instead of the standard National Non-Domestic multiplier.
Where a ratepayer occupies a main property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 from 1 April 2017 but has additional properties with individual rateable values of less than £2,900 the relief will only be applied to the main property. The additional properties will be disregarded for relief purposes, but will be liable for the full rates bill. If the aggregate total of all the rateable values is more than £19,999 from 1 April 2017, Small Business Rate Relief will not apply, even to the main property.
If a ratepayer is in occupation of more than one property, and the rateable value of both properties is more than £2,899 from 1 April 2017, Small Business Rate Relief will not apply to either property. However, 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 the relief for a maximum of 12 months.
Small Business Rate Relief does not apply to empty properties.
Interactions with other reliefs
If you are in receipt of another mandatory rate relief, for example Charitable or Rural Rate Relief, you will not be entitled to Small Business Rate Relief
Applying for relief
You can apply for Small Business Rate Relief online here
By email to email@example.com or by post to: Business Rates, Riverbank House, Bideford EX39 2QG
Please be aware that you do not need to pay anyone to apply for the relief on your behalf. Please contact the business rates team in the first instance and we will be happy to advise on entitlement to relief.
Continuity of relief
A single application for Small Business Rate Relief should be made when you first move into non-domestic premises. This application will last throughout the valuation period and possibly beyond. Any changes which may affect your entitlement to relief should be notified to the Council within four weeks. Examples of changes are:
i) Taking over additional premises anywhere in England, or
ii) An increase in the rateable value of a property that you are the ratepayer for, outside of the Torridge District.
iii) A change in the use of the property (i.e. from non-domestic to domestic)
Small business rate relief will be reviewed periodically to ensure that our records are up to date.
Rural Rate Relief
From 1 April 2017 you can get 100 per cent rural rate relief if you occupy a property in a Rural Settlement area
Mandatory Rate Relief (under section 43 of the LGFA 1988)
To qualify a business property must:
- Be the only general store, food shop or post office with a rateable value of up to £8,500
- Be the only public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500
A general store is defined as carrying out trade or business, wholly or mainly consisting of the retail sale of both food for human consumption and general household goods. Food does not include confectionary or animal food.
A food shop is defined as carrying out trade or business, wholly or mainly consisting of the retail sale of food for human consumption. The supply of food in the course of catering is excluded, for example, the supply of food for consumption on the premises, or the supply of hot food for consumption off the premises. Food does not include confectionary or animal food.
Due to the current financial pressures on Torridge District Council, the decision has been taken to not award any further discretionary rate relief to other businesses in rural settlement areas that do not qualify for Mandatory Rate Relief.
Rate Relief for Charities
Charitable organisations that occupy a non-domestic property for activities in connection with the purposes of that charity, are entitled to business rates relief of 80 per cent of the bill.
Due to the current financial pressures on Torridge District Council the decision has been taken to not award any further discretionary relief. Organisations are still able to claim the mandatory 80% relief.
Under Section 43 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, property occupied by a registered charity is eligible for 80 per cent mandatory rate relief. This can be granted without an application form being completed.
To qualify for mandatory relief the property must be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes and the organisation must be established for charitable purposes only, or be occupied by any persons administering a trust established for charitable purposes.
Find out how to set up a charity on the Gov.UK website
Some organisations are not registered as charities, but would be entitled to register under Section 505 of the Income & Corporation Taxes Act 1988. If you are not in the register of charities or an 'excepted charity', we can still treat you as a charity if you have a letter from HM Revenue and Customs stating that, for tax purposes, you are treated as a charity.
Rate Relief for Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs)
Organisations which are registered with HMRC as Community Amateur Sports Clubs are entitled to 80 per cent mandatory relief. This can be granted without an application form.
To qualify as a CASC a sports club must;
- be open to the whole community
- be run as an amateur club
- be a non-profit making organisation
- aim to provide facilities for and encourage people to take part in eligible sport
If you are a sports club that has not yet registered as a CASC you can find out more information from the Gov.UK website
Due to the current financial pressures on Torridge District Council, the decision has been taken to not award any further discretionary rate relief. Organisations are still able to claim the mandatory 80% relief.
Rate Relief for non-profit making organisations
Due to current financial pressures on Torridge District Council the decision has been taken not to award any further discretionary rate relief.
Not for Profit organisations that are currently in receipt of Discretionary Rate Relief will have their entitlement reduced by 25% each year from 01 April 2023 until they are no longer in receipt of any Discretionary Rate Relief by year 4.
There are no rates payable for the first three months when a non-domestic property becomes empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. Following this initial exemption period, rates will be charged at the full occupied rate.
If there is a change of ownership whilst the property is empty, no further period of exemption will be allowed unless the property is occupied for a minimum of six weeks. This is because the exemption is on the property and not the owner or leaseholder.
The following categories are exempt from payment of empty property rates under Section 45 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.
Any property with a rateable value of less than £2,900
Buildings that are subject to listed status are exempt from payment of empty property rates
Occupation prohibited by law
This exemption applies where occupation of a property is legally forbidden, or works are prevented from being carried out to enable occupation. This might apply where a property contains asbestos, or must have a fire certificate issued prior to occupation.
This category of exemption does not apply where the building requires redecoration or other building works, or where planning permission has been denied.
Bankruptcy, Liquidation and Insolvency
- Where, in respect of the owner's estate, there subsists a bankruptcy order within the meaning of section 381(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986(c).
- Whose owner is entitled to possession in his capacity as trustee under the deed of arrangement to which the Deeds of Arrangement Act 1914(d) applies.
- Whose owner is a company which is subject to a winding-up order made under the Insolvency Act 1986 or which is being wound up voluntarily under that Act.
- Whose owner is a company in administration within the meaning of paragraph 1 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 or is subject to an administration order made under the former administration provisions within the meaning of article 3 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (Commencement No.4 & Transitional Provisions & Savings) Order 2003(e).
- Whose owner is entitled to possession in his capacity as liquidator by virtue of an order made under section 112 or section 145 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
Partly Occupied Property
If a commercial property is only partly occupied, the council has the discretion to grant an exemption on the unoccupied parts of the premises.
One example would be where a company is relocating from one premises to another and where the move is phased by occupying or vacating parts of the premises in stages. Another example would be where the occupier of a warehouse reduces the amount of storage available because of a recession.
In this instance we will ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to apportion the rateable value of the property between the occupied and unoccupied parts. Your rate bill for the occupied area would be calculated using the rateable value provided by the VOA. Any entitlement to exemption would be calculated using the rateable value of the empty part.
The terms of this relief are laid down in Section 44A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.
The relief is granted whilst the situation exists (but for a maximum of one financial year).
If you think that this relief may be applicable to your situation, complete the giving full details of the circumstances and provide a map of plan of your premises clearly showing the occupied and unoccupied areas.
Your claim should be sent to the business rates team at: Business Rates, Riverbank House, Bideford EX39 2QG or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you think your property falls into one of the above categories, but your business rate bill does not reflect it contact the business rates team for further information.
Torridge District Council has the discretion to grant relief to ratepayers who would suffer extreme financial hardship by paying the whole of their rates bill
Section 49 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 gives the Council a discretionary power to reduce or remit the payment of non-domestic rates by granting Hardship Relief.
How is Hardship relief granted?
Any Hardship relief will normally be granted as a percentage of the rates payable for a specific period, usually the rating year in which the application is made.
What are the general qualifying criteria for Hardship relief?
The principal purpose of an award of hardship relief is to provide short-term assistance to businesses that are suffering unexpected hardship arising from circumstances beyond the business's control and outside of the normal risks associated with running a business of that type, to the extent that the viability of the business would be threatened if an award were not made.
The remission of rates on the grounds of hardship is the exception rather than the rule. The reason for this is that the Government will only fund part of any relief that is given, the remainder of the cost falls directly on local council tax and business ratepayers.
For this reason the council will only grant this relief in exceptional circumstances and where it is evident that it would be in the interests of the local community that the ratepayer remains in business.
How to apply for Hardship relief
Please read the guidance notes and complete the Application form