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Discounts and reliefs

Entitlement to exemptions, discounts and relief on your Business Rate bill depend upon your circumstances. From April 2014, the Government has introduced additional discounts for retail premises and unoccupied new builds.

  Retail Discounts

The Government is giving funding to local authorities so that they can provide a discount worth up to £1,000 a year - in  2014-15 and up to £1500 in 2015-16 - to retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000. This will provide support to premises including pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops. Retail Relief is being given using the Council's discretionary powers and will not continue beyond 31 March 2016. Full details can be obtained from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

The Government is also giving funding to local authorities so that they can provide a 50% discount for 18 months for those businesses that move into retail premises that have been empty for a year or more. This is available for businesses which move into empty premises between 1st April 2014 and 31st March 2016. Full details can be obtained from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

The award of such discounts is considered likely to amount to state aid. However it will be state aid compliant where it is provided in accordance with the De Minimis Regulations (1407/2013). The De Minimis Regulations allow an undertaking to receive up to €200,000  'de minimis' aid over a rolling three year period. If you are receiving, or have received, any 'de minimis' aid granted during the current or two previous financial years (from any source), you should inform Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council immediately with details of the aid received.

 Unoccupied Property Rating

The Government is introducing a new temporary measure for unoccupied new builds from October 2013. Unoccupied new builds will be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months (up to state aid limits) where the property comes on to the list between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016. The 18 month period includes the initial 3 or 6 month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for up to an extra 15 or 12 months.

Empty Properties 

Where a property has been used continuously for a period of six weeks or more (42 days) and then becomes empty, a three-month exemption from rates will apply, or in the case of industrial properties a six months exemption from rates will apply. After this date full rates are charged unless entitlement to full exemption continues.

The following types of properties are exempt from full rates after the period of rate relief is over.

Empty Property Rate Relief Threshold

The rateable value threshold below which empty properties are exempt from rates will be 2011/2012 threshold £2,600.

Listed Buildings

These are buildings that have a building preservation notice.

Properties that are prevented from being used by law

This situation may arise where a local authority has taken legal action to prevent occupation on grounds of health and safety.

Small business rate relief

Properties with a rateable value of £18,000 or below.

On 24 March 2010, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Government will temporarily increase the level of SBRR so that eligible ratepayers will pay no rates on properties with rateable values up to £6,000, with a tapered relief between 100% and 0% for properties with rateable values between £6,001 and £12,000.

Personal representatives of deceased persons

This is where you are only entitled to possession of a property under your role as a personal representative of a deceased person.


Certain types of insolvency allow for exemption from an empty property rate charge. Please contact us if you would like further information on any of the above.

Small Business Rate Relief

Ratepayers who are not entitled to another mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates and occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £17,999 outside London or £25,499 in London will have their bill calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier, rather than the national non-domestic rating multiplier.

In addition, if the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with a rateable value which does not exceed £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 50% for a property with a rateable value of not more than £6,000.

This percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either-

(a) one property, or

(b) one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,599.

The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £17,999 outside London or £25,499 in London on each day for which relief is being sought. If the rateable value, or aggregate rateable value, increases above those levels, relief will cease from the day of the increase.

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 Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. 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 Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council). 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.



Charitable and Discretionary Rate Relief

Charities are entitled to relief from rates on any non-domestic property that is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. Relief is given at 80 per cent of the full rate bill or of the transitional bill where the transitional arrangements apply.

We also have discretion to remit all or part of any rate bill in respect of a property occupied by certain bodies not established or conducted for profit.

Full details are available on the Discretionary Rate Relief Policy application form.

Community Amateur Sports Clubs

All Community Amateur Sports Clubs registered with the Inland Revenue are entitled to 80 per cent Mandatory Rate Relief.

If you are a club and although registered, have not applied for rate relief, please supply a copy of your registration details to us, so we can apply the rate relief to your account.

You can obtain further information on the Revenue and Customs website.

Rural Rate Relief

The Local Government and Rating Act 1997 introduced a scheme of mandatory rate relief for certain kinds of commercial properties situated in rural settlements.

Mandatory Rate Relief

If you are the occupier of a general store or post office in a settlement of less than 3,000 population, and rateable value of £8,500 or less, appearing in the rural settlement list for Welwyn Hatfield Council you will be entitled to 50 per cent Mandatory Rate Relief. But if this is the only such store or post office in that settlement, we have the power to remit all or part of the remaining 50 per cent (this is known as Discretionary Rate Relief).

The Village Shop Rate Relief scheme provides 50 per cent mandatory relief to all food shops in designated rural areas with rateable values below £8,500. We can top up this relief with a further 50 per cent discretionary relief.

If you occupy a public house or petrol filling station in the rural settlement list for Welwyn Hatfield, you are entitled to 50 per cent mandatory relief if its rateable value is £12,500 or less. Again we have the ability to remit all or part of the remaining 50 per cent.

Discretionary Rate Relief

We may allow up to 100 per cent relief to any food shop, post office, petrol station or public house, which qualifies for Mandatory Rate Relief. We may also grant up to 100 per cent rate relief to any rural business provided: it is within the boundaries of a qualifying settlement, has a rateable value of less than £16,500, and has a population under 3,000.

Before Discretionary Rate Relief is awarded we have to be satisfied that the purpose of the business is of benefit to the local community and takes account the interests of all council tax payers.

Hardship Relief

In certain circumstances council's have the authority to reduce or remit Business Rates where ratepayers are experiencing hardship.

Because any hardship relief awarded comes out of our own funds, we have a duty to council tax payers to ensure that the application is well founded, and that should the business be facing closure due to financial hardship, that the closure of the business would have a detrimental effect on an area.

Partially occupied premises

If you are a business that is only using part of the premises for which you are liable, you may be able to claim a rate relief known as Section 44a Relief.

For instance you may be able to reduce your rate liability on the part of the property that is unused for a period of 3 or 6 months;

  • if part of a property becomes temporarily unused,
  • if you phase in your occupation or vacation of a business premises over a period of time.

In order for your application to be validated, a council inspector must visit your premises. Please contact us to discuss your circumstances and to arrange for an inspection of your premises.

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