Business rates relief


There are a number of business rate reliefs available. This page reflects changes to reliefs from 1 April 2017.

  • Retail Discount: up to 100% reduction in rates from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021
  • Small business rate relief: mandatory, up to 100 per cent relief
  • Empty business premises relief: mandatory, 100 per cent relief for three or six months
  • Partially occupied properties relief: discretionary, 100 per cent relief for three or six months maximum on the empty part
  • Rural rate relief: 100 per cent relief
  • Charitable relief: mandatory 80 per cent relief
  • Discretionary rate relief: discretionary, up to 100 per cent relief
  • Hardship relief: discretionary, up to 100 per cent relief
  • Local newspapers relief: up to £1,500
  • Pubs Discount: £5,000 for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000
  • Discretionary business rate scheme: discretionary for local businesses facing a large increase in rates payable following the revaluation

Will I get retail discount?

All businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector will not be required to pay business rates between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. This includes shops, pubs, theatres, music venues, restaurants and bingo halls. It also includes estate agents and letting agents. This discount applies to all of these businesses regardless of their size or rateable value.

Why doesn't my new business rate bill show the full discount?

The new discount was announced after the bills were printed. New bills will be issued shortly showing the discount. No direct debit payments will be taken in the meantime.

Will my Nursery get a discount?

The Government has announced that individual local authorities can grant relief for Ofsted's Early Years-registered provider nurseries. Buckinghamshire Council will be using its discretion to award this relief. New rate bills will be issued to show the relief in April.

Small business rates relief

Ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £50,999 (and who are not entitled to other mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates) will have their bills calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier, rather than the national non-domestic rating multiplier.

In addition, generally, if a property has a rateable value which does not exceed £15,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to 100 per cent. For a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less, the ratepayer will receive a 100 per cent reduction in their rates bill.

Generally, this percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either:

  • one property.
  • one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,899.

The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £19,999. If the rateable value, or aggregate rateable value, increases above those levels, relief will cease from the day of the increase.

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.

Ratepayers in receipt of reliefs need to notify us of certain changes in circumstances:

  • a. the ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and
  • b. an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief

We will pick up other changes.

Where an application for relief is granted and your circumstances do not change, you will not need to renew your application until the next revaluation which happens every five years.

Changes in circumstances

You must tell us if:

  1. you move into a business premises you did not occupy at the time of making an application for relief - you must make a new application for relief
  2. there is an increase in the rateable value of your business premises in an area outside of Chiltern, you must notify us in writing

We can also give relief on certain other occupied property rural areas where the rateable value is below £16,500.

Empty business premises relief

Business rates are not payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties.

You should let us know immediately your property becomes empty as relief may not be given retrospectively.

After this period, rates are payable in full unless one of the exemptions from empty property rates apply - for example for listed buildings, small properties, owners insolvency or where occupation is prohibited by law.

The unoccupied property rate is usually zero for properties owned by charities (and where the next use of the property can be shown to be used for charitable purposes) and community amateur sports clubs.

Empty properties with a rateable value below £2,600 are exempt from empty property rates.

To apply, please contact us.

Partially occupied premises relief

We have discretion to ask the Valuation Office Agency (Inland Revenue) to issue a certificate splitting the rateable value between occupied and unoccupied parts of a property for a temporary period. This is used to apply empty relief on the empty part of a property.

Where relief is granted the same maximum time periods apply as for ordinary empty business premises. This relief is part funded by the Council and so the interests of ratepayers as a whole will be taken into account with every application when deciding whether to grant relief.

If you would like more information please contact the business rates team.

Rural rate relief

Properties in rural areas with a population below 3,000 can claim 100 per cent rates reduction from 1 April 2017.

To be eligible, a property must be occupied and:

  • the area's only general store, post office or food shop (does not have to be the only food shop, all food shops are eligible) and with a rateable value below £8,500
  • the only pub or petrol station and with a rateable value below £12,500

The eligible ratepayer is entitled to relief at 100 per cent of the full charge. We also have discretion to give relief on certain other occupied property rural areas where the rateable value is below £16,500.

To apply, complete the form below and return it to us via email at

Charitable relief

Charities are entitled to an 80 per cent mandatory relief where a property is completely occupied for charitable purposes.

To apply, complete the form below and return it to us via email at

Discretionary relief

We offer discretionary relief to organisations meeting locally set criteria, in particular non profit making community organisations such as community amateur sports clubs and community halls. To apply, complete the form below and return it to us via email at

Hardship relief

In exceptional circumstances, we can grant hardship relief to a business for a limited period of time.

We will normally grant hardship relief only where:

  • external circumstances adversely impact on a business beyond its control
  • those circumstances are outside normal risks associated with running a business of that type

We will consider each application on its merits.

When making a decision we will take the following into account:

  • We will look to satisfy ourselves that the ratepayer would sustain hardship if relief is not given and it is reasonable to do so having regard to the interests of council tax payers.
  • The hardship test need not be confined strictly to financial hardship: all relevant factors will be taken into account.
  • Granting relief helps the business overcome short term difficulties.

Local newspapers relief

Office space occupied by local newspapers may be eligible for a discount up to £1,500 a year up to 31 March 2025. The relief applies to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits.

If you think you may qualify for this relief, please contact us.

Pubs Discount

Due to the lateness of the chancellor's budget speech we have been unable to reflect the changes announced to the Pubs Discount in the bills dated 16 March. If you are entitled to further reductions in your Business Rates, a revised bill will be sent shortly.
The Government have given Local Authorities the discretion to award a Pubs Discount from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. Buckinghamshire Council is using its discretion to award relief to eligible occupied pubs with a rateable value of £100,000 or less, in line with the criteria set by Government. There is a £5,000 discount for aimed at independently owned pubs that are not part of a chain.

There is no definitive description of a traditional pub or public house in law which could be readily used by local authorities to determine eligibility. However, the Government's 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 requiring food to be consumed
  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar

For these purposes, it excludes:

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • nightclubs
  • hotels
  • snack bars
  • guesthouses
  • boarding houses
  • sporting venues
  • music venues
  • festival sites
  • theatres
  • museums
  • exhibition halls
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • casinos

This relief will be applied directly to the rate account of eligible pubs. You do not need to make an application.
If you believe you qualify, but do not receive a revised bill showing this relief in April, please contact the business rates team.

Discretionary business rate scheme

A new relief that took effect from 1 April 2017 gives councils the discretion to award extra rate relief for businesses facing large increases as a result of their revaluation can apply to have the increase reduced.

Funds for this relief are limited which means that from 1 April 2019 each application for relief will be considered on its own merits.

Details are as follows:

  • Relief is aimed at local businesses.
  • The business must have seen a significant increase in business rates between 2016 and 2017. Awards will be made as a percentage reduction on the increase in rates from one year to another.
  • The scheme will normally apply to businesses with a rateable value below £200,000.
  • There will be a minimum award of £250 per year.
  • The following types of occupiers/properties will not qualify for relief:
    • unoccupied properties
    • ratepayers that occupy more than two properties
    • government buildings
    • betting and gambling premises
    • financial institutions including cash machines / automated teller machines (ATMs)
    • pawnbrokers and pay day lenders
    • sex shops
    • education establishments
    • NHS premises
    • premises occupied by a precepting authority (legislative restriction)
    • ratepayers already in receipt of mandatory/discretionary relief

Icon for pdf Apply for discretionary business rate relief [435.89KB]

Contact us

Telephone: 01494 732077