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Business Rates

Business Rate relief

Some businesses and premises may be entitled to relief. Use the information below to find out if you are entitled to business rate relief.

  1. Small businesses

    Small Business Rate Relief

    Small business rate relief is designed to reduce the amount of business rates payable by small businesses.

    You can receive Small Business Rate Relief if:

    • You only occupy one business property in the UK
    • If you occupy more than one property, but:
      • Each additional property has a rateable value less than £2,900; and
      • The total rateable values of all your properties add up to less than £20,000 (The small business rate relief will be applied to the main property only).
      • The rateable value of your property is less than £15,000. (If your property is occupied and has a rateable value below £51,000, you're still considered to be a ‘small business'. Although you won't be entitled to Small Business Rate Relief, your business rates bills will automatically be calculated using the small business multiplier).

    If you qualify for other reliefs then you may not be entitled to claim Small Business Rate Relief and your bill will be calculated using the standard multiplier.

    For example, if you receive mandatory relief as a charity, then you will not qualify for small business rate relief. This does not include transitional relief or any discretionary reliefs.

    The amount of relief you receive changes depending on the rateable value of your property:

    • Less than £12,000: 100% relief.
    • Between £12,000 and £15,000: the percentage of relief available will decrease on a sliding scale.

    You can apply for small business relief online.

    Support Small Businesses relief

    The Supporting Small Businesses Relief is designed to help ratepayers who, as a result of the change in their rateable value at the revaluation, are losing some or all of their Small Business or Rural Rate Relief and, therefore, are facing large increases in their bills.

    The Supporting Small Businesses Relief will ensure that the increase per year of the bills of these ratepayers is limited to:

    • A cash value of £600 per year (£50 per month), or
    • The matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme. (The cap being 5% for 2017/18, 7.5% for 2018/19, 10% for 2019/20, 15% for 2020/21 and 15% for 2021/22)

    We will issue application forms to all those who qualify for this relief.

  2. Retail Rate Relief

    The Government announced in the Autumn Budget 2018 that business rates relief would be available for occupied retail properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000. This relief would run for the years 2019-20 and 2020-21. The value of discount will be one third off the bill, and must be applied after all other reliefs. With effect from the 1 April 2020,  this has been increased to 100% off the bill, and has been extended to include cinemas and music venues with a rateable value below £51,000.

    As a guide, qualifying businesses may include:

    • Shop
    • Furnishing shops or display room
    • Art galleries where art is for sale
    • Charity shop
    • Optician
    • Market
    • Petrol station
    • Garden centre
    • Post office
    • Restaurant
    • Coffee shop
    • Takeaway
    • Pub or bar
    • Sandwich shop
    • Hair and beauty salon
    • Shoe repairs or key cutting
    • Appliance repair
    • Ticket office
    • Dry-cleaners or launderette
    • Car hire
    • Travel agent
    • Photo processing
    • DVD / video rental
    • Tool hire 

    Premises that will not qualify include:

    • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureau de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
    • Other services (e.g. 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
    • Hereditaments that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

    The premises must be occupied and trading.

    State Aid rules apply. Please refer to State Aid section above.

    You can apply for Business Rate relief using our online form.

  3. Pub Relief 2020/21

    The Government announced at the end of January, that there would be £1000 Business Rate relief for public houses with a rateable value of less than £100,000, for one year from 1 April 2020.

    The Governments policy intention is that eligible pubs should:

    • Be open to the general public
    • Allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided
    • Allow drinking without the requiring food to be consumed
    • Permit drinks to be purchased at a bar

    For these purposes it should exclude:

    • Restaurants
    • Cafes
    • Nightclubs
    • Hotels
    • Snack bars
    • Guesthouses
    • Sporting venues
    • Music venues
    • Festival sites
    • Theatres
    • Museums
    • Exhibition halls
    • Cinemas
    • Concert halls
    • Casinos

  4. Charities and non-profit organisations

    Charities are entitled to relief on any non-domestic property that is wholly or mainly used for the objectives of the charity.

    Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC's) and other non-profit organisations are also entitled to relief.

    To be eligible for mandatory charity relief, you must be an organisation established solely for charitable purposes. For the purposes of awarding this relief, we define a charity as:

    • Any organisation that is registered with the Charity Commission or Department of Education.
    • Charitable organisations that are exempt from registration (e.g. Scout & Guide Groups, Religious Trusts, etc.)
    • Any organisation that is registered with HMRC as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC).

    Registered charities will need to provide their charity commission registration number. CASCs will need to provide us with a copy of their HMRC registration certificate.

    Non-profit making organisations may be eligible for discretionary relief. This includes Community Interest Companies (CICs), Sports Clubs, Recreation Facilities and Hostels.

    To qualify, the main objectives of the organisation must be charitable, religious, or concerned with education, sports or recreation, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts.

    Mandatory charity relief is given at 80% of the amount due.

    Some charities may be entitled to further discretionary relief in addition to the mandatory 80%. In accordance with our Discretionary Rate Relief policy.

    Non Profit organisations may also be entitled to Discretionary Rate Relief.

    You will need to contact us to apply for this relief.

  5. Rural businesses

    Certain businesses in rural settlements, with a population below 3000, may qualify for Rural Rate Relief.

    Your business may be eligible for Mandatory Rural Rate Relief if it is:

    • The only village general store and has a rateable value of no more than £8,500.
    • The only post office and has a rateable value of no more than £8,500.
    • A food shop and has a rateable value of no more than £8,500.
    • The only village pub and has a rateable value of no more than £12,500.
    • The only petrol station and has a rateable value of no more than £12,500.

    If you don’t meet these criteria, you may still be eligible for support as we also award Discretionary Rural Rate Relief to certain rural businesses.

    Your business may be eligible if it can be shown to be a benefit to the community and is:

    • The only village pub and has a rateable value of no more than £16,500.
    • The only dentists surgery or hairdresser and has a rateable value of no more than £16,500.

    If you are awarded Mandatory Rural Rate Relief, you will be fully exempt from paying business rates (100% reduction).

    If you are awarded Discretionary Rural Rate Relief, you could receive up to 50% relief on your business rates.

    You will need to contact us to apply for this relief.

  6. Businesses in hardship

    If your business is suffering severe hardship and you cannot pay your business rates bill, you may be considered for Hardship Relief.

    Your business must be occupying the property in question in order to be eligible.

    The ratepayer must not be entitled to any of the following types of relief:

    • Mandatory charity relief
    • Mandatory rural rate relief
    • Discretionary relief for non-profit organisations

    If you think you may be eligible for any of these reliefs, you should try applying for them first.

    To be considered for hardship relief you would need to demonstrate all 3 of the following conditions:

    • Hardship is being endured (this is established by examining 2 years of the businesses financial records)
    • Your business is viable and the granting of relief will help ensure the future of the business. (We will need you to submit a business plan or financial projection for the organisation in order to show this).
    • Your business provides a considerable community benefit. (We will take into account the range of facilities available and the businesses impact on the local area).

    If successful, you will be entitled to up to 100% relief.

    This would normally only be done in extreme cases of hardship and for businesses which are particularly important to the local community.

    The decision to grant relief takes account of the fact that local council taxpayers will cover part of the cost of the relief.

    You will need to contact us to apply for this relief.

  7. Empty or partially occupied properties

    The Empty Property Rate Relief scheme provides business rate relief for businesses with empty premises.

    A property is not deemed as empty if stock or goods remain on the premises, despite whether you have ceased trading. Your business will still be liable for the full charge.

    However, certain machinery and equipment used when the property was last occupied, or intended for use when the property next becomes occupied, may be disregarded when determining whether a property is empty.

    The amount of relief you will receive depends on the nature of the empty property:

    • Non-industrial properties can get 100% rate relief for a maximum of 3 months
    • Industrial properties can get 100% rate relief for a maximum of 6 months

    At the end of these periods, your business will be liable for the full charge.

    Some property types are permanently exempt from Business Rates when empty:

    • Properties where occupation is prohibited by law
    • Listed buildings
    • Small properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900
    • Properties of companies in administration or liquidation
    • Properties owned, and last occupied, by a charity where the next user of the property is likely to be charity.

    If part of your property is not being used and is completely unoccupied for a short time, you may receive relief to reduce the amount you have to pay in Business Rates.

    To be eligible, the empty area of the property must be completely cleared of equipment and stock.

    If you choose to apply, you will need to submit a detailed plan of your property, highlighting the unoccupied area.

    We will send an inspection officer to visit to verify your application.

    If we decide you are eligible for relief, we will ask the Valuation Officer to split the rateable value between the occupied and unoccupied parts.

    We will then award Empty Property Relief for the unoccupied area, i.e. you will be exempt from paying business rates for the vacant area, for a maximum of 3 months or 6 months for industrial properties.

    You will still be charged business rates for the occupied area.

    You will need to contact us to apply for this relief.

  8. State Aid

    State aid is financial support provided by the state to business organisations. State aid is tightly regulated to avoid distorting competition within the European Union. 

    De Minimis Aid is a lawful form of state aid and allows businesses to receive up to €200,000 (approximately £176,000) over 3 years.

    Certain business rates reliefs are considered as De Minimis Aid. Therefore, when you apply for these reliefs, you will be asked to declare that your business has not received more than €200,000 in De Minimis state aid in the last 3 years and that granting relief under this scheme for this or any other property, whether within South Somerset or not, will not cause this limit to be exceeded.

  9. Transitional relief

    For information about transitional relief visit our revaluation and transitional relief page.

    We will adjust your bill automatically if you’re eligible.

    You may be entitled to other reliefs, as well as transitional relief.

  10. Revaluation Support Relief Scheme

    The Government has provided a national £300m discretionary fund from 2017-18 over 4 years to support the businesses that face the steepest increases in their Business Rates bills as a result of the 2017 revaluation.

    We were allocated the following funding and have used its discretionary powers to introduce a new local discretionary rate relief – the Revaluation Support Relief Scheme.


    Amount of funding









    Business were considered eligible for relief if:

    • They had suffered an increase in liability of more than 12.5% after other reliefs were applied.
    • The ratepayer had been registered on our systems and in continuous occupation since 31 March 2017 (Relief cannot be applied where a ratepayer claims occupation retrospectively).
    • They weren’t already entitled to Supporting Small Business Rate Relief or Small Business Extension Relief.
    • The property was on the rating list on 1 April 2017 (Relief will not apply where properties are entered into the list retrospectively).

    Any businesses meeting these conditions will have been granted discretionary relief at the following percentages of the net increase in the bill for 2017/18:

    Financial year

    Percentage relief of net increase for those with RV under 200,000

    Percentage relief of net increase for those with RV over 200,000










    A reserve fund has been retained for those businesses;

    • That did not qualify for Revaluation Support Relief Scheme and;
    • Have experienced an increase in business rates due to the revaluation and;
    • Have suffered hardship as a result and;
    • Whose circumstances are such that we wish to provide them with assistance.

  11. Change in circumstances

    You must tell us about any changes which may affect your entitlement to rate relief, such as:

    • vacating the property
    • taking up occupation of an additional property
    • an increase in the rateable value of a property

    If you do not report a change, you may pay an incorrect amount for Business Rates which could lead to an investigation for fraud.

    Visit our change in circumstances page to tell us about a change.

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