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Small business rates relief

Find out if your startup qualifies for tax breaks, and what COVID-19 means for your business rates


All businesses operating in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors in the UK will not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. 

This 12-month business rates holiday applies to shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, cinemas, live music venues, assembly or leisure properties (such as spas, sports clubs, or gyms), and hospitality properties (hotels, guest houses, caravan sites, and self-catering accommodation). Estate agents, bingo halls, and letting agencies have also been added to the list of business types that are exempt from this year’s business rates.

Nurseries are also exempt from paying business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. To be eligible, your business must be on Ofsted’s Early Years Register, provide care and education for children up to five years old (the early years foundation stage), and not be a local authority-run nursery.

If these new business rates relief measures apply to your business, you do not need to take any action. Your local council will apply your discount automatically, which may involve re-issuing your bill.

If you’re a small business owner then you might be eligible for business rates relief through the government’s Small Business Rates Relief scheme (SBRR).

This relief cuts the amount of business rates you have to pay, lowering your overheads and freeing up cash for investing in growth.

In some cases you are exempt from paying anything, but many business owners are unaware of the rates relief on offer to them.

Wondering whether you’re eligible? And how much it will actually save you? And how you can even get it?

We’ll answer these questions and explore  the different rates relief available including:

Small business rates relief

In England, you can get small business rate relief if you only occupy one property with a rateable value of less than £15,000.

To find out your rateable value visit our guide on how to calculate your business rates.

If your property has a rateable value of £12,000 or less you will get 100% relief from business rates. This rate will gradually decrease from 100% for properties with a rateable value between £12,001 to £15,000.

For example:

  • A property with a rateable value of £13,500 will net you 50% off your bill
  • One with a rateable value of £14,000 will give you 33% off

But what if you have a second property?

If you have a second property you can keep relief on your main property for a year and beyond as long as:

  • None of your other properties have a rateable value of above £2,899 and…
  • The total rateable value of all your properties is less than £20,000 or £28,000 in London

The rateable values of the properties are added together and relief applied to the main property.

You can find out if you qualify for small business rates relief by contacting your local council.


Grant funding of £25,000 has been made available to retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses with property of a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000, with funding of £10,000 announced for properties with a rateable value of below £15,000.

How to calculate your business rates

Your property’s rateable value is its open market value on 1 April 2015, based on the Valuation Office Agency’s estimation.

To calculate your business rates, multiply the rateable value by the correct ‘multiplier’ (see table below). This will tell you how much to pay in business rates before relief is deducted.

If your property is worth £51,000 or more, use the standard multiplier. If it is worth less than £51,000, use the small business multiplier. However, if paying business rates for before 2017 to 2018, use the small business multiplier if your rateable value is below £18,000 (£25,500 in Greater London).

Year Standard multiplier Small business multiplier
2019 to 2020 50.4p 49.1p
2018 to 2019 49.3p 48.0p
2017 to 2018 47.9p 46.6p
2016 to 2017 49.7p 48.4p

Charitable rate relief

Charities and small community sports clubs are entitled to get their business rates bills reduced by 80%.

Other non-profit organisations can apply for up to 100% ‘discretionary relief’, which is decided by local councils.

Rural relief

If your business is in a rural area, you may be able to claim rural rate relief of between 50% and 100% off your business rates.

This includes a village shop with a rateable value below £8,500, a pub or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500, or any other rural retail businesses with a rateable value of up to £16,500.

To qualify for rural rate relief, your business must be based in area that features in the rural settlement list for a defined settlement where less than 3,000 people live.

If you’re finding it difficult to pay, you may be able to get hardship relief, although this is usually available only to businesses that are significant to the local community.

Again, local councils can decide whether to top up the relief from 50% to 100%.


Small business grant funding of £10,000 has been made available for all businesses in receipt of rural rate relief or small business rate relief.

Enterprise Zone relief

If you’re starting a business within an enterprise zone or relocating to an enterprise zone then you qualify for enterprise zone relief and access up to £55,000 a year for over five years.

Enterprise zones that are included within this relief are listed here and to find out how to apply for the relief you need to contact your enterprise zone area.

Buildings exempt from business rates

The following types of buildings may be exempt from paying business rates:

  • Agricultural land and buildings, including fish farms
  • Buildings used for training or welfare of disabled people
  • Buildings registered for public religious worship or church halls

You also do not have to pay business rates on empty buildings for three months. After this, you will have to pay full business rates.

Useful resources

Read our guide on how to calculate your business rates for more information on business rates payable. –

Valuation Office Agency –


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