Business Rates Relief & Exemptions

As a ratepayer, you may be entitled to a relief or an exemption as long as your business or property meets the qualifying criteria for that relief.

2020 Autumn budget announcement

In January 2020, the Government announced the following business rate measures:

  • To increase a one third discount for retail premises with a rateable value below £51,000 to 50% discount for the year 2020/21.
  • Extension of the £1,500 business rates discounts for local newspapers’ office space in 2020/21.
  • A new pub relief that will provide £1,000 discount to eligible pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000. The pub relief will be in addition to retail relief should you be eligible. 

Discretionary Revaluation Support

The Government have undertaken a national revaluation on all commercial premises in England and Wales. From 1 April 2017 all premises in the district were assigned a new 'rateable value' by the Valuation office agency.

In the Spring budget the Government announced £300m of extra funding for local authorities to provide discretionary relief to those businesses facing increases in their business rates following the revaluation.

Please note that this relief will cease at the end of the 2020/2021 financial year. There is no need for a ratepayer to apply for the Revaluation Support Relief as it is calculated automatically and any entitlement will be shown on the bill.

Small Business rate relief

A ratepayer that occupies a property with a rateable value up to £51,000 will have their business rates liability calculated using the lower rating multiplier (£0.499) instead of the national rating multiplier (£0.512). You will not be entitled to this relief if your property is unoccupied or if you are in receipt of other mandatory reliefs. This is applicable for 2020/21.

Qualifying criteria

In addition to being calculated at the lower multiplier, a further relief can be given for properties with rateable values up to £15,000 if the following criteria are met:

  1. Only occupy one business premises or
  2. One main property and additional properties of rateable value 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.

If the rateable value is less than £12,000, then the ratepayer maybe entitled to 100% relief. For rateable values between £12,001 and £15,000, the taxpayer may receive a percentage reduction. You can estimate your business rates on the website.

To apply please complete our Small Business Rate Relief online form

Alternatively please call the business rates team on 01279 655261 EXT 7223 , where you can apply for the relief over the phone

Charitable rate relief

Where the ratepayer is a charity or trustees for a charity, there is an entitlement to 80% mandatory relief. Mandatory relief is also given to Community Amateur Sports clubs (CASC), and non-profit making societies. The council has the discretion to give a further 20% to these organisations bringing total relief to 100%.

Non-profit organisations may also be able to get discretionary relief up to 100%

For more information please call the business rates team 01279 655261 ext 7223.

Rural rate relief

Certain businesses within a rural settlement may be entitled to 100% relief from 1st April 2017. A rural settlement is an area where the population is below 3,000. The business should be the only post office, food store or general store and have a rateable value less that £8,500. The only pub or petrol station may also apply as long as rateable value is less than £12,500.

Hardship relief

East Herts council has the discretion to award relief to certain ratepayers who are experiencing hardship. This relief is paid for out of the council funds, so decisions to award this relief should be considered on the basis of community interest. Consideration should be given if it is found that its closure would have a unfavourable effect on the local community. Application must be made in writing and include fully audited accounts.

Transitional relief

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

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

Retail Discount 2019 to 2021

In the Autumn Budget 2018, the Government announced a new relief scheme for retail properties that have a rateable value of below £51,000. In January 2020, the Government announced that under this scheme, eligible ratepayers will receive a 50% discount towards their final bill for 2020/21. The definition of retail properties is shown in the Retail Discount Guidance Notes [61KB]

The relief will take effect for 2019/20 and 2020/21. If you would like to check whether you are entitled in the meantime please contact the business rates team on 01279 655261 or alternatively read the Retail Discount Guidance Notes [61KB] and the State Aid Information [55KB] fully to make sure that you may qualify

You can then complete a Retail Discount Form [117KB] and State Aid De Minimis Declaration Form [104KB]

Local Newspaper Relief

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

Pub Relief

The Government announced that for 2020/21 a pub discount which will provide a £1,000 discount to eligible pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000.

The Council has awarded the discount to those cases that we think are eligible and this will show on you annual bill. However if you are not entitled because you exceed State Aid, please advise the Council immediately. More information about State Aid is available on the website.

If you have not been awarded the relief, but think that you qualify, please email

Empty Properties

If a property is empty, the liability to pay the charge is with the ratepayer who is entitled to possession i.e. freeholder, leaseholder or tenant, also referred to as 'The Owner' Depending on the type of property, there will also be a period where no rates are payable.

If a property is continuously empty, for the initial 3 months rates are not payable after which full rates are payable. For industrial properties no rates are payable for the initial 6 months.

Note: If property is occupied for a period of less than 6 weeks, the empty period does not start again.

If a property is only partly occupied for a short period of time, the local authority has the discretion of award a relief on the part that is temporarily unoccupied. Full details can be obtained by contacting the business rates section on 01279 655261 ext 7223

Please see the following table of the possible exemptions available:

Empty property exemptions

Type of property

Period of exemption

Qualifying criteria

Listed Building


On Historic England list

Small building


Rateable value less than 2900

Buildings owned by charities


To be used by charity when next occupied

Empty property

3 months


Empty industrial property

6 months


Occupation prohibited by law


Legal documentation from Local Authority or Crown prohibiting occupation.

Contact us

Tel: 01279 655261 Ext 7223


Write to:

Business Rates Section
East Herts Council
Pegs Lane
SG13 8EQ