Reliefs & Exemptions

Forms

Advice on claiming these discounts is available free from the Council. You do not need to employ expensive rating advisors who will usually charge a percentage of any reduction they may secure for you, and in some cases could end up increasing your rates bill.

COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF)

COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) was announced in the 2021 Budget. The Government has subsequently announced further details of the allocations and how CARF is expected to operate.
 
Surrey Heath has received a £2.4m share of the £1.5bn fund made available to support businesses that have been affected by the pandemic, but which were ineligible for the existing business rate support via the Expanded Retail Discount and Nursery Support scheme.
 
The scheme is known as COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF). Businesses entitled to the Airport and Ground Operation Support Scheme (AGOSS) operated by the Department for Transport will not be eligible to receive further support via CARF.
 
The council was required to design and approve a local scheme for the distribution of this fund to local business. The local scheme has been devised and is has been approved.

Key exclusions

The government has advised that in order to claim the monies to pay this relief councils must:

  • not award relief to ratepayers who for the same period of the relief either are or would have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering retail, hospitality and leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS)
  • not award relief to a hereditament for a period when it is unoccupied (other than hereditaments which have become closed temporarily due to the government's advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief)
  • direct their support towards ratepayers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact

How funding will be awarded

The council will automatically award funding to eligible accounts that were occupied during 2021/2022. The eligible businesses will not have been in receipt of, or eligible for, the Extended Retail Discount (covering retail, hospitality and leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS).
 
Revised bills showing the amount of relief awarded through CARF should be issued in September 2022, showing a recalculation of the business rates instalments after taking into account the award of relief.

Revaluation 2023 & Transitional Arrangements

All rateable values are reassessed at a general revaluation.

The next revaluation takes effect on 1 April 2023.

Revaluations make sure each ratepayer pays their fair contribution and no more, by ensuring that the share of the national rates bill paid by any one ratepayer reflects changes over time in the value of their property relative to others. Revaluation does not raise extra money for Government.

Further information about transitional arrangements and other reliefs may be obtained from our Business Rates Team or the Business rates Government webpage.

More information on the 2023 revaluation can be found on the Government website.

Small Business Rate Relief

Complete the Small Business Rate Relief Application form.

If you are a small business you could qualify for ‘Small Business Rate Relief'. This is a Government backed discount on the business rates you pay. Applying for the relief is easy; just contact the Business Rates Team at Surrey Heath Borough Council. Our officers will be happy to talk you through the process in simple, uncomplicated terms. Alternatively, you can download and complete the application in the ‘Forms’ section on the right hand side of this page.

Advice on claiming these discounts is available free from the Council. You do not need to employ expensive rating advisors who will usually charge a percentage of any reduction they may secure for you, and in some cases could end up increasing your rates bill.

To find out more about Small Business Rate Relief, and how to apply, contact Ellie White on 01276 707100 ellie.white@surreyheath.gov.uk.

Remember: You do not need to pay for this advice, the Council will provide it free of charge.

Budget 2016 - Business Rates Changes (Summary)

From April 2017, small businesses that occupy property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will pay no business rates.

Currently, this 100% relief is available if you’re a business that occupies a property (e.g. a shop or office) with a value of £6,000 or less.

There will be a tapered rate of relief on properties between £12,000 and £15,000.

The threshold for the small business rates multiplier will increase from £18,000 to include properties with a rateable value of up to £51,000.

Empty Property Rates

You will be exempt from paying business rates on empty property for three months after the property becomes vacant.

There are additional exemptions for certain types of property or for properties under a set rateable value:

  • Industrial premises, such as warehouses, are exempt for a further three months
  • Listed buildings are exempt until they become occupied again
  • Buildings with a rateable value under £2,900 are exempt until they become occupied again
  • Properties owned by charities are exempt if the property's next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for charitable purposes
  • Community amateur sports club buildings are exempt if their next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for a sports club.

After the exemption period ends, you will be liable for the full business rate bill.

You should contact the Business Rates Section as soon as your property becomes vacant.

Exemptions from Occupied Rates

Some types of property are exempt from rating and no Business Rates are charged on them. Exempt properties include:

Agricultural land and buildings

Land and buildings used for agricultural purposes are exempt from Business Rates. The exemption extends to market gardens (but not garden centres), allotments, nursery grounds and orchards.

Fish farms

Fish farms are exempt but this exemption does not extend to the rearing of fish for sale for ornamental use.

Churches and other places of worship

Places of public religious worship belonging to the Church of England or Church of Wales or which are certified as a place of religious worship are exempt. Church halls, chapel halls and similar buildings are exempt provided that they are used in connection with a place of public religious worship.

Sewers

Property consisting of a sewer or an accessory belonging to a sewer is exempt.

Public Parks

Public Parks and similar amenities are exempt.

Certain property used for disabled people

Properties that are wholly used for the training, welfare and some other associated services for disabled people are exempt.

Swinging moorings for boats

Certain types of mooring are exempt.

Charitable Rate Relief

Occupied Properties

Where a property is occupied by a charity or trustees of a charity and is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities), the maximum amount payable is 20% of the normal rates bill.

Unoccupied Properties

Mandatory relief may also be granted in respect of unoccupied properties. Where the ratepayer is a charity or trustees of a charity and it appears that when next in use the property will be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities), the charge is 10% of the full rates bill.

The question of whether an organisation is a charity or not is usually resolved by reference to the register of charities maintained by the Charity Commissioners. Absence from the register does not mean that an organisation is not a charity because it may be excepted from the register.

The Council has the discretion to give you 100% relief if it is considered appropriate. Each case is looked at on it's own merits. This Authority's general policy recommends that all organisations which are registered as charities and are providing local public services can be granted the additional relief. This relief is subject to approval by the Council's Executive.

If you wish to apply for Mandatory/Discretionary relief, please contact the Business Rates Team for an application form on 01276 707100 or revenues@surreyheath.gov.uk.

Your application must be supported by the following:

  • Where the organisation is a registered charity, a copy of the Charity Registration index slip.
  • A statement or documentation of the organisation's constitution/rules and aims/objectives.
  • Latest audited accounts and balance sheet.

If your application is successful, the entitlement continues from year to year, unless of course there is any change in circumstance that affects your organisation's entitlement to relief. A review is carried out each year, when all recipients of relief are required to reaffirm that their circumstances have not changed since they last submitted an application.

Discretionary Rate Relief

Premises occupied by non-profit making organisations can qualify for up to 100% rate relief at the discretion of the Council. The categories of non-profit making organisations eligible to apply for Discretionary Rate Relief are prescribed by law. Relief may be granted in respect of the following:

  • Any property which has been given the mandatory relief of 80%.
  • Any property occupied by one or more institutions or organisations not established for profit and whose main objectives are charitable, or are otherwise philanthropic or religious, or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts.
  • Any property wholly or mainly used for the purposes of recreation, and all or part of it is occupied for the purposes of a club, society or other organisation not established or conducted for profit.

Rate Relief under these provisions is subject to approval by the Council's Executive.

If you wish to apply for Discretionary relief, please contact the Business Rates Team for an application form on 01276 707100 or revenues@surreyheath.gov.uk.

Rate Relief for Former Agricultural Premises

The purpose of this scheme is to make relief available for new farm diversification enterprises.

New non-agricultural businesses set up on land or in buildings which were previously agricultural may qualify for 50% mandatory relief.  One of the qualifying conditions for this type of relief is that the Rateable Value must not be more than £7,000.

The Council has the discretion to increase the relief above the 50% mandatory level up to a maximum of 100%.

For further information concerning this form of rate relief, please contact the Business Rates Team on 01276 707100 or revenues@surreyheath.gov.uk.

Rural Rate Relief

The Rural Rate Relief Scheme came into effect from 1 April 1998. The Scheme introduced a new mandatory rate relief to certain types of businesses in rural areas where they meet certain criteria. The Scheme also granted local authorities with discretionary powers to award rate relief to other businesses in rural areas, again meeting certain criteria.

Mandatory Relief

Certain types of businesses may qualify for 50% mandatory relief. First and foremost, the premises must be in a rural settlement with a population of less than 3,000 and that settlement must be within the boundaries of the designated rural areas. The designated rural areas are shown on a Rural Settlement List.

Businesses that qualify for mandatory relief are:

  • General stores (selling food and household goods) and post offices, providing the Rateable Value is £6,000 or less and the business is the only one of its type in the rural settlement. The threshold increased.
  • Any food shop with a Rateable Value of £6,000 or less. The threshold increased to £7,000.
  • Public houses and petrol filling stations, providing the Rateable Value is £9,000 or less and there are no other such facilities in the rural settlement.  The threshold of £9,000 Rateable Value increased to £10,500.

The Council has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill in respect of rural businesses already entitled to mandatory relief.

As it currently stands, there are no qualifying rural areas within the Borough of Surrey Heath.

Discretionary Relief

Local authorities may grant up to 100% discretionary relief to other businesses operating within the rural settlement areas where the property has a Rateable Value of £12,000 or less and the business is of benefit to the local community having regard to the interests of all Council Tax payers.

As it currently stands, there are no qualifying rural areas within the Borough of Surrey Heath.

Properties which are partly unoccupied

The general principle is that occupation of part of a property is deemed to be occupation of the whole property. However in certain cases the Council has discretionary powers to award rate relief in respect of partly occupied properties under Section 44A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. This entails the Council seeking an apportionment of the Rateable Value between the occupied and unoccupied parts from the District Valuer and Valuation Officer of the Inland Revenue. A concession may then be made in respect of the unoccupied area.

Section 44A may only be enacted if it appears to the Council that the premises will be partly unoccupied for a short time only. A "short period of time" is not defined and is left for the Council to decide. In general, the allowance is granted to the end of the financial year and amended if there are any changes which affect the entitlement at any time during the year.

There is no specific application form but a request for relief under the provisions of Section 44A should be made in writing during the financial year in which relief is sought. A plan clearly indicating the occupied and unoccupied areas should accompany the application to assist with the apportionment of the Rateable Value. Your application together with the plan should be sent to:

Surrey Heath Borough Council
Business Rates Team, Surrey Heath House, Knoll Road, Camberley, Surrey GU15 3HD

Transitional Relief

The conversion from General Rates to National Non-Domestic Rates in 1990, coupled with the effects of the revaluation that year, meant that many ratepayers faced large increases in their bills and others faced substantial decreases. The Transitional Relief Scheme was introduced by the Government to soften the impact of these changes by limiting the amount that individual rate bills may increase or decrease year on year, after allowing for inflation. Relief schemes were brought in with effect from 1 April 2000, 1 April 2005, 1 April 2010 and 1 April 2017 to phase in the effects of the revaluations gradually.

The transitional relief scheme was introduced in 2010 to help those ratepayers who were faced with higher bills. The national scheme ended on 31 March 2015 and as a result a small number of ratepayers may have faced a jump to their full rates bill from 1 April 2015.

Surrey Heath has put in place a local transitional relief scheme from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2017, for properties with a rateable value up to and including £50,000.

Small Business Rate Relief Scheme

From 01/04/2017 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 the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with 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 a maximum of 100%. For a property with a rateable value of not more than £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a 100% reduction in their rates bill.
 
Generally, this percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either -
  1. one property, or
  2. 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 outside London or £27,999 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.
 
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.
 
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 -
  1. the ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and
  2. 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.

Apply online

Properties that will benefit are those with a rateable value up to and including £50,000 who would have received transitional relief in 2015/16 or 2016/17 had the existing transitional relief scheme continued in its current format.

COVID-19 Measures

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced some Covid19 measures that affect Business Rates in the recent budget.

The annual billing process had been completed in respect of the 2020/21 financial year before these measures were announced. Surrey Heath Borough Council will need to re-bill the affected properties once the Government’s Budget is approved and Local Authorities are given the new scheme details. Rebilling cannot occur until the schemes from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have been received and until the schemes have received approval from the Executive Committee of Surrey Heath Borough Council.

Small business currently 100% exempt from business rate payment

The Government has indicated that many small businesses pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). To support those businesses in meeting financial difficulties arising from COVID-19, the government will provide £2.2bn of funding to provide £3,000 to around 700,000 business currently eligible for SBRR or Rural Rate Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs. This will be administered by local authorities.

Awards will be made to the qualifying businesses once details of the scheme have been confirmed. Your bill dated 10 March 2020 will detail if 100% Small business Rate Relief is being awarded.

Retail Discount

The Government had already announced the Business Rates retail discount will be increased to 50% in 2020/21. To support small businesses affected by COVID-19 the government is increasing it further to 100% for 2020/21.

Those business that currently qualify for retail discount will be moved to the new discount automatically once the guidance and approval have been confirmed.
 
If you currently pay your Business Rates by Direct Debit and have Retail Discount shown on your 20/21 bill we will not be requesting by payment from your bank.

Please see more information about Retail Discounts in 2021.

Pub Relief

The Government had also already announced the introduction of a £1,000 Business Rates discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000 in England for one year from 1 April 2020. To support pubs in response to COVID-19 the discount will be increased to £5,000.

Those public houses that currently qualify for pub discount will be moved to the new discount automatically once the guidance and approval have been confirmed.

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Business Rates Explanatory Notes

View the Business Rates Explanatory Notes 2020/21