Business rates relief

Business rates relief

Your business rates could be reduced if you qualify for one of the available reliefs.

Small business rate relief

If you are a small business, find out whether you meet the criteria to be granted a rate relief.

If you own a small business, we can offer support to reduce your business rates provided you meet the criteria below.

Small business rates relief - eligibility
To qualify for small business rate relief with effect from 1 April 2017, your property must:
  • have a rateable value below £15,000
  • be occupied
  • be the only property the ratepayer occupies or
    • any other properties occupied have rateable values of less than £2,900, and all occupied properties have combined rateable values not exceeding £19,999 
To qualify for small business rate relief for the period to 31 March 2017 your property must;
  • have a rateable value below £12,000
  • be occupied
  • be the only property the ratepayer occupies or
    • any other properties occupied have rateable values of less than £2,600, and all occupied properties have combined rateable values not exceeding £17,999
Relief may now only be backdated to 1 April 2010. Any application for relief back to this date must be received by no later than 30 September 2017. Applications received after this date cannot be backdated.

Please note that if you occupy more than one business property and meet the criteria above, small business rate relief will only be granted to one property – the main property, i.e. the one with the highest rateable value.

If you are eligible to receive charitable or mandatory rural rate relief, you will not be eligible to apply for small business rate relief.

See below for further information on how to apply for the relief. Otherwise, please contact us on:
Level of small business rates relief
From 1 April 2017, the Small Business Rate Relief will permanently double to 100%. The thresholds for relief have also been increased following the 2017 Revaluation.
  • For those with a rateable value of £12,000 or less, relief will be awarded at 100%
  • For those with a rateable value between £12,001 and £14,999, relief will be awarded on a sliding scale from between 100% and 0%.
  • If the rateable value is between £15,000 and £50,999, no relief can be awarded, however as with all properties with a rateable value of £50,999 or less, the small business multiplier is used to calculate the charge.
Level of relief 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2017

The level of relief for the period from 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2017 was doubled, and so those with rateable values of £6,000 or less receive 100% relief.

For properties with a rateable value above £6,000, but not more than £12,000 the level of relief is reduced by 1% for every £120 of rateable value above £6,000, but not more than £12,000..

If the rateable value is between £12,000 and £17,999 no percentage relief can be awarded. As with all properties with a rateable value of £17,999 or less, the small business multiplier is used to calculate the charge.


 
Additional support for expanding businesses
Additional support is available to small businesses that take on another property from 14 February 2014. This allows the ratepayer to continue to receive relief on their existing premises for 12 months from the date the additional property is taken on.
Small business rates relief - how to apply
Please note that application forms cannot be accepted if signed by an agent or other representative. This is because the ratepayer is criminally liable if any information on the form is false. Please have the application form signed by one of the following:
  • the ratepayer
    • In the case of a partnership, a partner must sign.
    • In the case of a trust, a trustee must sign.
    • In the case of a corporate body, a director of the company must sign.
  • any person authorised to sign on behalf of the ratepayer
Relief can be backdated to 1 April 2010. However, applications must be received within six months of the end of a valuation period. The current valuation period will end on 31 March 2017. Please send all completed forms to;

Business Rates Section,
Northumberland County Council,
Wansbeck Square,
Ashington,
Northumberland,
NE63 9XL
Small business rates relief - changes in circumstances
If your circumstances change after you have made your initial application, you will need to contact us.  

You must notify the council if:
  • you occupy a further business property anywhere in England
  • there is an increase in rateable value of a property you occupy elsewhere in England that you have already notified the council of
You must inform us of these changes within four weeks from the date of your change in circumstances. Failure to notify us of a relevant change will result in losing your relief.

If you notify us after the four-week period, you will lose the relief from the day after the date of change until the day on which you notified us. If the change of circumstances is such that you will no longer be eligible for the relief, your relief will end from the date of change.

To inform us of a change you can:

Download and complete the ‘change in circumstances’ section of the small business rate relief application form and send to:

Business Rates Section,
Northumberland County Council,
Wansbeck Square,
Ashington,
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

Alternatively, call the business rates section on 0345 600 6400.

Business rates - mandatory relief for a charity or community amateur sports club

As a charity or community amateur sports club you are entitled to mandatory relief.

Charities and community amateur sports clubs are entitled to an 80% reduction in their business rates if they meet the criteria below. 

In some cases, we may also be able to offer further discretionary relief of up to 20%.

Business rates - charities
Charities or trustees of a charity are entitled to mandatory rate relief if the property they occupy is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.

To qualify, the organisation will normally have to be registered with the Charity Commission. However, some organisations that are exempt from registration may also qualify such as:
  • scout groups/girl guide groups
  • voluntary aided schools
  • societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act
Relief can also be granted to charity shops. However, the charity will only qualify for relief if:
  • the shop sells wholly or mainly donated goods
  • the proceeds are used for the purpose of the charity
Unoccupied properties, owned by charities or trustees of a charity, are eligible for mandatory relief if there is evidence that when next in use it will be used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes.
Business rates - community amateur sports clubs (CASC’s)
In order for community amateur sports clubs (CASCs) to be eligible for mandatory rate relief you must:
  • be registered with HM Revenues and Customs as a community amateur sports club
  • use the occupied premises wholly or mainly for the purposes of the club
  • be open to the whole community
  • be run as an amateur club
  • be a non-profit-making organisation
  • aim to provide facilities for, and encourage people to take part in, eligible sport
If your club is not registered and you would like further information, please visit the HM Revenues and Customs website.
Mandatory rate relief - how to apply
Please download and complete our mandatory rate relief application form. Send all completed forms to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

For further information you can contact us by:

Discretionary rate relief for a non-profit organisation

Certain non-profit making organisations may qualify for discretionary rate relief.

For charities, community amateur sports clubs (CASC’s) and certain non-profit-making organisations, you can top-up your 80% mandatory relief to 100% with a discretionary rate relief.

Some non-profit organisations may also be entitled to up to 100% discretionary rate relief without any mandatory relief. 

Discretionary rate relief - eligibility
The range of bodies qualifying for relief is varied, but all are non-profit making. We assess the following criteria:
  • the contribution the organisation makes to the objectives of Northumberland County Council
  • the joining or membership fee (excessive fees are seen as restrictive)
  • restrictions placed on membership (it should be open to everybody)
  • how many Northumberland residents use/are members of the organisation
  • the level of effort made to encourage membership from groups such as young people, disabled persons, ethnic minorities, unemployed people and whether there are any education or training schemes for such groups
  • whether the facilities are available to people other than members
  • if the building is currently, or is in the process of becoming, accessible to disabled people
Discretionary rate relief - how to apply
For more guidance on discretionary rate relief please download our notes, otherwise please download and complete the application form here. Once complete, please send to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

For further information, or if you need to inform us of a change in circumstance, please contact us by:
Once we receive your application form
We will review all forms to check we have the required information and evidence. If necessary, we will contact you for further information.

The application is then assessed against the criteria within the council’s discretionary rate relief policy to reach a decision. You will be notified in writing of the level of relief and the period of the award.

An application for relief can only be backdated to the beginning of the same financial year in which the application is made. The council will carry out regular reviews of those organisations in receipt of relief.

Rural rate relief

Certain properties contained within a designated rural settlement may be entitled to relief, both mandatory and discretionary.

If your property is in a rural settlement* with a population of fewer than 3,000, you may be entitled to relief from your business rates. Some businesses will be eligible for mandatory relief and may be able to apply to top-up with discretionary relief.
 
*A designated rural settlement is one contained in a rural settlement list. The council is required to establish and maintain these lists.

Rural rate relief - mandatory relief
From 1 April 2017 the following types of businesses situated in a designated rural settlement may be entitled to 100% mandatory relief. (Prior to 1 April 2017 relief was awarded at 50%);
  • post office – where it is the only post office in the settlement and has a rateable value of less than £8,500
  • general store – where it is the only general store in the settlement and has a rateable value of less than £8,500
  • food store – where it has a rateable value of less than £8,500
  • public house – where it is the only public house in the settlement and has a rateable value of less than £12,500
  • petrol station – where it is the only petrol station in the settlement and has a rateable value of less than £12,500

For those businesses who already receive the 50% mandatory relief and who continue to meet the above eligibility criteria the relief has automatically been increased to 100%.

Any new businesses wishing to apply for mandatory rural rate relief, please contact us by:

For further information, please see our guidance notes and policy document.
Rural rate relief - discretionary relief
The property must be in a designated rural settlement with a rateable value of less than £16,500. This includes any property that falls into the above mandatory category.

As the council taxpayers part fund the scheme, we must be satisfied the property is used to benefit the local community. Please click here to download an application form and send all completed forms to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL   

Hardship relief for a business suffering hardship (section 49)

If your business is suffering hardship, you may be eligible for relief from business rates.

We can consider granting relief to a business if:

  • it would sustain hardship if relief were not granted
  • it’s in the interest of the local council taxpayer to do so
For more information regarding hardship relief, please read our guidance notes and rate relief policy document.

Hardship relief - how to apply
Please download and complete an application form. You will need to provide evidence of your circumstances and why the council should consider reducing your rate liability. Please send completed application forms to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
 
For further information you can contact us by:

Reoccupation relief for a business

We encourage the reoccupation of shops that have been empty for long periods of time by providing relief to businesses.

The relief provides a 50% discount on business rates for 18 months. To qualify, ratepayers must move into a previously empty retail premises between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.

The premises must also have been vacant for 12 months or more immediately prior to reoccupation.

Reoccupation relief - how to apply
To apply for reoccupation relief, please download and complete an application form. Send all completed forms to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL.
 
For further information, or if you need to inform us of a change in circumstance, please contact us by:

Partly occupied relief

If you occupy a non-domestic property and part of it is unoccupied for a short period of time, then we have the discretion to award relief.

Relief is awarded if part of a property is unoccupied and will remain so for a short time only – not if part of a property is temporarily not used or its use is temporarily reduced. It applies to situations where there are practical difficulties in occupying or vacating a property in one operation, such as:

  • the new accommodation to which the ratepayer is moving is not fully ready for occupation and the move is phased in over a number of weeks or months
  • where a building or buildings become temporarily redundant it might be reasonable to grant relief for the unoccupied part 

Partly occupied relief - how to apply
To apply, please send us a letter detailing your circumstances. Make sure you include the following information:
  • details of both the occupied and unoccupied parts of the property, including a clear plan identifying these parts
  • the circumstances leading to the partial occupation
  • the intention of the business in relation to the unoccupied parts, for example you are unable to occupy all of the property until refurbishments have been completed
  • the date from which partial occupation of the property began and when the property is likely to be fully occupied or fully unoccupied
Please send all letters to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
 
For further information you can contact us by:
Partly occupied relief - what happens next?
Once we have received your letter, our inspection officer will visit your premises to verify the information. If we think relief can be awarded, we will make a request to the valuation office to divide the rateable value of the property between the occupied and unoccupied parts. Once approved, the valuation office will issue a certificate to us. This is provided for in the Local Government Finance Act 1988 under section 44A.

When we receive the certificate, the level of relief will be equivalent to 100% of the amount that would have been due on the unoccupied part – unless the property would have been subject to an empty property rate charge if it was fully unoccupied.

Any relief awarded will end when either: 
  • there is a change in the partial occupation, either more or less
  • it is the end of the financial year, although we can use our discretion to award relief in the following year in some circumstances
  • the rateable value changes through revaluation or an appeal

Business rates – transitional relief

Here you will find information on the transitional phasing arrangements for your business rates.

Revaluation 2017 & transitional arrangements
All rateable values are reassessed every five years at a general revaluation. However, the latest revaluation was postponed from 1 April 2015 to 1 April 2017.

Five-yearly revaluations make sure each ratepayer pays their fair contribution and no more. Bills reflect changes over time in the value of your property relative to others.

As a result of the 2017 revaluation, for those that would otherwise see significant increases in their rates liability, the government put in place a £3.6 billion transitional relief scheme to limit and phase in changes in rate bills.

To help pay for the limits on increases in bills, there also has to be limits on reduction in bills.
Under the transition scheme:
  • limits continue to apply to yearly increases and decreases until the full amount is due
  • the rate applies only to the bill based on a property at the time of the revaluation
  • if there are changes to the property after 1st April 2017 that have resulted in an increase in rateable value, transitional arrangements will not normally apply to the part of a bill that relates to this
  • changes to your bill as a result of other reasons, for example changes to the amount of small business rate relief, are not covered by the transitional arrangements
Do I need to apply for transitional arrangements?
No. They are applied automatically and are shown on the front of your bill. 

For more information you can contact us by: Write to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council 
Wansbeck Square 
Ashington 
Northumberland 
NE63 9XL
What are the transitional phasing limits?
For properties facing an increase
The increase will be limited by the following percentages plus an amount for inflation.
 
Limits on increases in bills
Financial year Small property
Rateable value (RV) less than £20.001
Medium property
RV is £20,001 and £100,000
Large property
RV is £100,001 or greater
2017-2018 5% 12.5% 42%
2018-2019 7.5% 17.5% 32%
2019-2020 10% 20% 49%
2020-2021 15% 25% 16%
2021-2022 15% 25% 6%

For properties facing a decrease
The decrease will be limited by the following percentages less an amount for inflation.
 
Limits on decreases in bills
Financial year Small property
Rateable value (RV) less than £20.001
Medium property
RV is £20,001 and £100,000
Large property
RV is £100,001 or greater
2017-2018 20% 10% 4.1%
2018-2019 30% 15% 4.6%
2019-2020 35% 20% 5.9%
2020-2021 55% 25% 5.8%
2021-2022 55% 25% 4.8%

 
 

Business rates exemption for empty properties

Here you will find information on whether your empty property may be entitled to an exemption or be exempt from rating.

If you own or hold a lease for a non-domestic property – and it is empty and not in use – then you may be entitled to a period of exemption from the date it first became empty.

If the property remains empty after that exemption period, you will be liable to pay full business rates.

Exemption classes
To be exempt from paying business rates, your property must be one of the following:
  • empty less than three months
  • have a rateable value of less than £2,900 (with effect from 1 April 2017)
  • empty less than six months if a qualifying industrial property
  • an ancient monument
  • a listed building
  • one where occupation is prohibited by law
  • kept empty by action of Crown or public authority
  • the owner is bankrupt
  • the owner is a trustee under a deed of arrangement
  • the owner is entitled to possession as a liquidator
  • the owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person
  • the owner is a company in administration
  • the owner is a company which is subject to a winding-up order
The government introduced a new temporary measure for unoccupied new builds from October 2013. For further information please see the section on new build empty relief.
How to apply
To apply for a period of exemption, please provide us with the following information:
  • date from when the property became empty
  • address of property
  • name, address and contact details of property owner
For further information, or if you need to inform us of a change in circumstance, please contact us by: Alternatively you can write to us at:

Business Rates Section

Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
Properties exempt from rating
Certain types of property are not included in the rating list for non-domestic rates and therefore are not charged business rates. The list below shows some examples. Please contact us if you require further information or click here to visit gov.uk:
  • agricultural land and buildings
  • fish farms
  • places of religious worship
  • lighthouses, buoys and beacons
  • properties of drainage authorities
  • parks
  • properties used by the disabled
  • air raid protection works
  • swinging moorings
  • visiting forces headquarters
  • properties in enterprise zones  
Contact details: Alternatively you can write to us at;

Business Rates Section

Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
New build empty relief
All unoccupied new builds completed between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016 may be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months, up to state aid limits.

The 18-month period includes the initial three or six-month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for an extra 15 or 12 months.

Relief may now only be backdated to 1 April 2016. Any application for relief back to this date must be received by no later than 30 September 2017. Applications received after this date cannot be backdated.

100% relief will be available at the discretion of the council if you meet the stated criteria. Once complete, please send to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

For further information, or if you need to inform us of a change in circumstance, please contact us by:

Supporting small business relief

This is a scheme of relief that is available to support those ratepayers facing large increases as a result of the loss of small business or rural rate relief due to the 2017 revaluation.

At the Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced that a scheme of relief would be made available to support those ratepayers facing large increases as a result of the loss of small business or rural rate relief due to the revaluation. The relief will limit the amount of the increase those ratepayers will face to £600*.

* In the first year of the scheme, all ratepayers losing some or all of their small business rate relief or rural rate relief will see the increase in their bill capped at £600.
 
The Council have identified those ratepayers who it believes are eligible for the scheme and have automatically applied relief subject to confirmation that relief is within EU State Aid limits.

Please contact the Business Rates Team on 01670 624885 if you are not in receipt of the relief but feel you meet the eligibility criteria.

For further details regarding eligibility for the scheme please read the guidance notes below.

Supporting small business relief scheme guidance notes
 

Revaluation discretionary relief scheme

The Council is currently considering a proposed discretionary scheme to help those ratepayers who are facing the largest increases in their rates bills following the 2017 revaluation.

At the Spring Budget, the Government announced the establishment of a £300m discretionary fund over four years from 2017/18 to support businesses in their area. The £300m will cover the four years from 2017/18:
 

  • £175m in 2017/18
  • £85m in 2018/19
  • £35m in 2019/20
  • £5m in 2020/21
 
The Government has given local authorities the discretion to develop their own relief schemes to administer their allocation of the funding. Northumberland County Council is currently considering a proposed scheme to help those ratepayers who are facing the largest increases in their rates bills following revaluation.

Further details will be published once the scheme has been formally approved by the Council.
 

Relief for local newspapers

This rate relief of up to £1,500 per annum is available for office space occupied by local newspapers.

Following an announcement in the Spring 2016 budget, the Government has introduced an annual discount of up to £1,500 for office space occupied by local newspapers. There will be a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament up to EU state aid limits, for a period of 2 years from 1 April 2017. 

To apply for reoccupation relief, please download and complete the local newspaper application form

Please send completed application forms to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL.
 
For further information please contact us by:

Support for pubs relief

This is a relief scheme for pubs that have a rateable value of below £100,000.

At the Spring Budget, the Government announced a new relief scheme for pubs that have a rateable value of below £100,000. Under the scheme, eligible pubs will receive up to a £1000 discount on their bill. The relief will have effect for 2017/18 only and will be subject to EU State Aid Limits.

The Council have identified those ratepayers who it believes are eligible for the scheme and have automatically applied relief subject to confirmation that relief is within EU State Aid limits. Please contact the Business Rates Team on 01670 624885 if you are not in receipt of the relief but feel you meet the eligibility criteria.

For further details regarding eligibility for the scheme please read the guidance notes below.

Support for pubs relief guidance notes