Business rates and the March 2020 Budget

All retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England qualify for the business rates holiday for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. 

This will not be reflected in your initial business rates bill which went out before the new measures were announced.

Our business rates team will send all qualifying businesses an amended bill shortly.

Glossary: A hereditament is the property, building or land from where you run your business.

Do I qualify for the new business rates holiday?

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

a. as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,

b. for assembly and leisure; or

c. as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

We consider shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues to mean:

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
  • Opticians
  • Post offices
  • Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
  • Car/caravan show rooms
  • Second-hand car lots
  • Markets
  • Petrol stations
  • Garden centres
  • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)

Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public

  • Hair and beauty services (such as hair dressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc
  • Shoe repairs/key cutting
  • Travel agents
  • Ticket offices e.g. for theatre
  • Dry cleaners
  • Launderettes
  • PC/TV/domestic appliance repair
  • Funeral directors
  • Photo processing
  • Tool hire
  • Car hire

Hereditaments that are being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public

  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Coffee shops
  • Pubs
  • Bars

Hereditaments which are being used as cinemas

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).

Hereditaments can be a live music venue even if used for other activities, but only if those other activities (i) are merely ancillary or incidental to the performance of live music (e.g. the sale/supply of alcohol to audience members) or (ii) do not affect the fact that the primary activity for the premises is the performance of live music (e.g. because those other activities are insufficiently regular or frequent, such as a polling station or a fortnightly community event).

There may be circumstances in which it is difficult to tell whether an activity is a performance of live music or, instead, the playing of recorded music. Although we would expect this would be clear in most circumstances, guidance on this may be found in Chapter 16 of the statutory guidance issued in April 2018 under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003.2

We consider assembly and leisure to mean:

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
  • Nightclubs
  • Sport and leisure facilities
  • Stately homes and historic houses
  • Theatres
  • Tourist attractions
  • Gyms

Hereditaments that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public

  • Public halls
  • Clubhouses, clubs and institutions
  • We consider hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation to mean:
  • 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. For the avoidance of doubt, hereditaments which have closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID19 should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this 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 relief.

Again, it is for local authorities to determine for themselves whether particular properties are broadly similar in nature to those below and, if so, to consider them not eligible for the relief under their local scheme.

Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public

Financial services (for example, banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)

Other services (for example, estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies) Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors) Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors)

  • Post office sorting offices
  • Casinos and gambling clubs

Hereditaments that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

In line with the legal restrictions in section 47(8A) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, billing authorities may not grant the discount to themselves, a precepting authority, or a functional body, within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

 

Further guidance on the business rates retail discount can be found on GOV.UK