Small business rates relief

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

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Under previously announced legislation, hospitality, leisure and retail companies can get 66% business rates relief until the end of the 2021-2022 tax year (5 April 2022).

Nurseries are also entitled to the same discount. 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?

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 the relief applied to the main property.

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

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).

YearStandard MultiplierSmall Business Multiplier
2019 to 202050.4p49.1p
2018 to 201949.3p48.0p
2017 to 201847.9p46.6p
2016 to 201749.7p48.4p

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%.

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. –

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Bryn Glover has been Editor of since 2017. Running the site's content strategy, Bryn spends a lot of time speaking to entrepreneurs and preparing for Startups' annual editorial campaigns.

Having worked in journalism for just under a decade, Bryn wrote for sites like The Times, Reader's Digest, Independent and Times Higher Education before moving into the small business world.

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