Explanatory notes for your business rates bill

Information from the government to explain business rates.

Non-domestic rates (business rates)

Business rates are collected by local authorities. This money, together with revenue from council tax payers, revenue support grant provided by the government and certain other sums is used to pay for local services.

Under the business rates retention arrangements introduced from 1 April 2013, local authorities keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally which provides an incentive for authorities to work with local businesses to create a favourable local environment for growth.

Further information about the business rates system, including transitional and other reliefs, can be found on GOV.UK

Rateable value

Apart from properties that are exempt from business rates, each non-domestic property has a rateable value which is set by the valuation officers of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The VOA draws up and maintain a full list of all rateable values.

The rateable value of your property is shown on the front of your bill. This broadly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on a particular date. For the revaluation that came into effect on 1 April 2023, this date was set as 1 April 2021.

The valuation officer may alter the value if circumstances change. The ratepayer (and certain others who have an interest in the property) can appeal against the value shown in the list if they believe it is wrong. Full details on your rights of appeal are available from the Valuation Office Agency. We can only backdate business rates to the date from which the list is changed.

The Valuation Office Agency will alter rating assessments if new information becomes known indicating the valuation is wrong.

Further information about the grounds on which appeals may be made and the process for doing so can be found on the VOA section of the GOV.UK website.

Business rates multiplier 2023/24

We work out your business rates bill by multiplying the rateable value of the property by the appropriate multiplier. There are two multipliers:

  • the standard non-domestic rating multiplier (51.2 pence) and
  • the small business non-domestic rating multiplier (49.9) pence

The current multipliers are shown on the front of your bill. The former is higher to pay for the cost of small business rate relief. 

Except in the City of London where special arrangements apply, the government sets the multipliers for each financial year for the whole of England. The current multipliers are shown on the front of your bill.

Business rates instalments

Payment of business rate bills is automatically set on a 10-monthly cycle. However, you can make payments in 12 monthly instalments. If you want to take up this offer, you should contact us as soon as possible.

Revaluation 2023 and transitional arrangements

All rateable values are reassessed at a general revaluation to ensure that business rate bills reflect changes over time in the value of property relative to others. This helps maintain fairness in the rating system by updating valuations in line with changes in the property market. Revaluation does not raise extra money for government.

The 2023 revaluation takes effect from 1 April 2023. 

The government has put in place a transitional relief scheme to limit and phase in increases in business rates as a result of the 2023 revaluation.

Transitional relief limits the percentage your business rates bill can be increased each year following revaluation. The transitional relief will apply each year until the full amount is due and your bill reaches what your full bill should be.

The scheme applies only to the bill based on a property at the time of the revaluation. If there are any changes to the property after 1 April 2023, transitional arrangements will not normally apply to the part of a bill that relates to any increase in rateable value due to those changes. Changes to your bill because of other reasons (such as changes to the amount of small business rate relief) are not covered by the transitional arrangements.

The transitional arrangements are applied automatically and are shown on the front of your bill.

Further information about transitional arrangements and other reliefs on .gov.uk

Further information about the 2023 revaluation can be found on .gov.uk

Unoccupied property rating

You don't have to pay business rates in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six 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 properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs do not have to pay business rates whilst they are empty.  List of properties that are exempt from business rates whilst empty.

Partly occupied property relief

You are liable for the business rate bill whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, we can award relief in certain cases in respect of the unoccupied part. If this applies to you, please contact us for further information.

Small business rate relief

You can get small business rate relief if you:

  • only use one property, and its rateable value is less than £15,000.
  • use more than one property, and the rateable value of each of your other properties is £2,899 or below, with the rateable value of all these properties combined being £27,999 or less

You can only get small business rate relief on one property. The rateable values of the properties are added together and the relief applied to the main property.

Amount of relief

  • For a property with rateable value £12,000 or less, small business rate relief will be given at 100%
  • For properties with a rateable value between £12,001 and £14,999, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 100%.
  • For properties with rateable value £50,999 or less, the small business rate multiplier is used only (even if you have more than one property).  

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.

For the small business rate multiplier to be used, you must not be entitled to:

  • other mandatory relief for the property, or
  • an unoccupied exemption for the property.

If you believe you meet eligibility criteria and have not received small business rate relief please complete the small business rate relief online form (pdf 349KB).

Provided you continue to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time as regards the property and the ratepayer, you will automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period.

If you get small business rate relief, you need to tell us about the following changes in circumstances (we will pick up on all other changes):

  • if you take up occupation of an additional property
  • an increase in the rateable value of a property you occupy in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief.

Charity and community amateur sports club relief

Charities and registered community amateur sports clubs are entitled to 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity or the club, and is wholly or mainly used for the charitable purposes of the charity (or of that and other charities), or for the purposes of the club (or of that and other clubs). 

An inspection of the premises will be required before we can consider granting charity relief.

If this applies to you please complete the charities and non-profit organisations online form (pdf).

Relief for local newspapers

The government is providing funding to local authorities so that they can provide a discount worth up to £1,500 a year for 2 years from 1st April 2017, to office space occupied by local newspapers.

This is up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per property, and up to state aid limits. The relief will be delivered through our discretionary discount powers(under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988).

See eligibility criteria for this relief for local newspapers on .gov.uk

State aid

The award of such discounts is considered likely to amount to state aid. You must not exceed £110,000 of state aid in 2023/24 or £315,000 over a three-year period. Expanded retail discount for 2021/22 does not count towards the total but any Covid grants received do.

If you are receiving, or have received, state aid exceeding the amounts for the current or two previous financial years (from any source), you should contact us immediately including details of the aid received.

Hardship relief

We have discretion to give hardship relief in certain circumstances. Please contact us for further details.

Rating advisers

Ratepayers do not have to be represented in discussions about their rateable value or their rates bill. However, ratepayers who do wish to be represented should be aware that members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) are qualified and are regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct.

Before you employ a rating adviser, you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Take great care and, if necessary, seek further advice before entering any contract.

Supporting Small Business Relief

Ratepayers losing Small Business Relief because of the 2023 revaluation will have their increases limited to the greater of either:

  • a cash value of £600 per year, or
  • the matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme.

This relief will run for 3 years to 31 March 2026. Ratepayers will receive the relief until this date or until their bill reaches the amount that their bill would have been within the transitional relief scheme, whichever is first.

Transitional Support Discretionary Relief

The government is providing £300 million of funding to local authorities over 4 years to 31 March 2021 to provide discounts to ratepayers on a discretionary basis. Each authority has been allocated a share with which to design and implement a scheme to deliver targeted support to ratepayers.

Local authority allocations can be found at: GOV.UK discretionary business rates relief scheme

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