Business rates - reductions and relief

The council provides advice on eligibility for rate reductions and will provide application forms and process applications for reductions.

There are a number of different reductions available:

Revaluation 2017 and Transitional Arrangements

Commercial properties are usually revalued every 5 years. The last revaluation was in 2010 and the rateable values were calculated based on rental value as at 1 April 2008. All properties have now been revalued based on the rental values as at 1 April 2015. This will come into effect on 1st April 2017.

If there is a large raise in your liability you may receive a Transitional Relief, if on the other hand your liability has a large decrease, you may have to pay a Transitional Premium.

The transitional relief scheme is used to phase in the increase/decrease in rates payable following the revaluation. This relief or premium is automatic and will be applied to your bill if the difference is within the specified percentage

Following the 2017 revaluation, the transitional scheme runs for five years, after which time everyone pays the full amount (rateable value times the multiplier).

Transitional Limits

Upward Cap

Year Small Medium  Large
2017/18 5% 12.5% 42%
2018/19 7.5% 17.5% 32%
2019/20 10% 20% 49%
2020/21 15% 25% 16%
2021/22 15% 25% 6%

Downward Cap

Year Small Medium Large
2017/18 20% 10% 4.1%
2018/19 30% 15% 4.6%
2019/20 35% 20% 5.9%
2020/21 55% 25% 5.8%
2021/22 55% 25% 4.8%

Note:  these are year on year caps on increases. For instance, the maximum increase for small properties over 5 years would be 64%. But a small property with an increase of 7% would reach their full bill in year 2.

Small property: Rateable value less than £20,000
Medium property: £20,001 - £100,000
Large property: above £100,000

The scheme applies only to the bill based on a property at the time of a revaluation. If there are any changes to the property after the revaluation date, transitional arrangements will not normally apply to the part of a bill that relates to any increase in rateable value due to those changes. For further information please contact us

Unoccupied property rating

Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the Government by order.

In most cases, the unoccupied property rate is zero for properties owned by charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs. In addition, there are a number of exemptions from the empty property rate as below:

  • has been unoccupied for a continuous period not exceeding three months;
  • which is a qualifying industrial hereditament that has been unoccupied for a continuous period not exceeding six months;
  • the ratepayer is a charity or trustees for a charity, and  it appears that when next in use the hereditament will be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities).
  • the ratepayer is a registered club for the purposes of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 (community amateur sports clubs), and it appears that when the hereditament is next in use it will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of that club and that club will be such a registered club, or it will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of two or more clubs including that club, and each of those clubs will be such a registered club.
  • whose owner is prohibited by law from occupying it or allowing it to be occupied;
  • which is kept vacant by reason of action taken by or on behalf of the Crown or any local or public authority with a view to prohibiting the occupation of the hereditament or to acquiring it;
  • which is the subject of a building preservation notice within the meaning of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 or is included in a list compiled under section 1 of that Act;
  • which is included in the Schedule of monuments compiled under section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979;
  • whose rateable value is less than £2,900;
  • whose owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person;
  • whose owner is entitled to possession of the hereditament in his capacity as trustee under a deed of arrangement to which the Deeds of Arrangement Act 1914 applies;
  • whose owner is a company which is subject to a winding-up order made under the Insolvency Act 1986 or which is being wound up voluntarily under that Act;
  • whose owner is a company in administration within the meaning of paragraph 1 of Schedule B1 to the Insolvency Act 1986 or is subject to an administration order made under the former administration provisions within the meaning of article 3 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2003;
  • whose owner is entitled to possession of the hereditament in his capacity as liquidator by virtue of an order made under section 112 or section 145 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of your bill.

Partly occupied property relief

A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, the local authority has discretion in certain cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. Full details can be obtained from the local authority.

Small business rate relief

All occupied properties (not entitled to mandatory relief), with a rateable values less than £51,000 will have their rates automatically calculated using the lower multiplier of £0.466.

In addition to the smaller multiplier. ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £19,999 may apply for small business rates relief.

Qualifying criteria

The qualifying criteria for small business rates relief will benefit as follows:

  • Rateable values less than £12,000 may be entitled to 100% relief
  • Rateable values between £12,001- £15,000 will receive a tapered reduction.
    Follow the link to estimate rates payable www.gov.uk/calculate-your-business-rates.
  • Qualifying criteria for additional relief are as follows:
    • Only one premises or
    • One main business premises and additional properties of rateable values not exceeding £2,899. The rateable value of all liabilities should not exceed £19,999.

The government has introduced an additional support to help small businesses taking on additional business rates premises. If additional premises are taken on, the ratepayer will be allowed to keep the relief on their initial business for a period of 12 months

An application for Small Business Rate Relief is not required. Where a ratepayer meets the eligibility criteria and has not received the relief they should contact their local authority. Provided the ratepayer continues to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time as regards the property and the ratepayer, they will automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period.

Certain changes in circumstances will need to be notified to the local authority by a ratepayer who is in receipt of relief (other changes will be picked up by the local authority). The changes which should be notified are:-

(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.

Local newspapers

The government has introduced a £1,500 discount for office space occupied by local newspapers, up to maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament.

Charity and Community Amateur Sports Club Relief

Charities and registered Community Amateur Sports Clubs are entitled to 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity or the club, and is wholly or mainly used for the charitable purposes of the charity (or of that and other charities), or for the purposes of the club (or of that and other clubs).

The local authority has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill. For further information contact the Revenues section using the 'Contact details' available on the right.

Local Discounts

Local authorities have a general power to grant discretionary local discounts. For further information contact the Revenues section using the 'Contact details' available on the right.

Non-profit making organisation relief

The local authority has discretion to give relief to Non-Profit Making Organisations. For further information contact the Revenues section using the 'contact details' available on the right.

Hardship relief

The local authority has discretion to give relief in special circumstances. For further information contact the Revenues section using the 'contact details' available on the right.

Information Supplied with Demand Notices

Information relating to the relevant and previous financial years in regard to the gross expenditure of the local authority is available at www.stevenage.gov.uk. A hard copy is available on request by writing to the council at Stevenage Borough Council, Revenues Service, Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford SG13 8EQ or email, business.rates@stevenage.gov.uk or telephone, 01438 242875.