Reliefs and Exemptions - Business Rates

To apply for any Reliefs or Exemptions please contact us for a form.

Rating Advisors

Ratepayers do not have to be represented by a Rating Adviser before contacting the Revenues & Benefits Service about:

  • Appealing about rateable value of their property
  • Seeking a reduction in their bill by applying for an exemption or another relief

Appeals and applications can be made free of charge.

However, ratepayers who do wish to be represented should be aware that members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) are qualified and are regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct.

Before you employ a rating adviser you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Take great care and, if necessary, seek further advice before entering into any contract.

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Exempt properties are not shown in the Local Rating List and therefore have no liability for Business Rates. Such exemptions include:

  • agricultural land and buildings
  • fish farms
  • places of religious worship
  • open public places such as parks
  • property used for the disabled
  • property in enterprise zones, etc

Some properties may be exempt whilst they are empty.

If your property is used under such circumstances, for further information you should contact the Valuation Officer Agency.

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Empty rate exemptions

Business Rates are payable on most empty properties and usually the person who is entitled to possession will be liable for the Business Rates.

  • shops and offices are exempt from Business Rates for the first three months after the property became empty. After this the full charge becomes payable
  • industrial properties are exempt from Business Rates for the first six months after the property became empty. After this the full charge becomes payable

Some properties are exempt from Business Rates empty property charges.

  • properties with a rateable value under £2,900 (check your rateable value)
  • empty properties of companies in administration or liquidation
  • listed buildings
  • properties where occupation is prohibited by law
  • properties where the owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person

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Transitional relief

Following revaluation properties may face an increase or decrease in their bill, so to phase in significant increases or decreases and reduce the impact of these changes the government introduced Transitional Relief. Transitional arrangements following the revaluation on 1st April 2017 are phased over a maximum of five years.

Further details about the transitional relief arrangements from 1st April 2017 are available on the GOV.UK website.

We will automatically include transitional relief when we calculate your liability and details will be shown on your bill.

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Small Business Rate Relief from April 2017

Ratepayers who are not entitled to another mandatory relief and who occupy a single property with a rateable value of up to £14,999 are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief.

You may also be entitled to Small Business Rates Relief if you have more than one property, but relief can only be awarded in respect of one property.

You may be eligible for Small Business Rate Relief depending on your property's 2017 Rateable Value.

Relief applies where either:

  • You are only responsible for Business Rates in respect of one property; or
  • You are responsible for two or more properties; and
  • the Rateable Value of the second and each subsequent property is less than £2,900; and
  • the Rateable Values of all the properties totals less than £20,000

Properties with a Rateable Value of £12,000 and below will qualify for 100% relief and there's a sliding scale reduction for properties with a Rateable Value of £12,001 to £14,999. No relief can be awarded where the Rateable Value is £15,000 or more.

Relief cannot be awarded in respect of unoccupied properties or those where Mandatory Charitable Relief has been awarded.

To apply for relief please complete and return an application form:

If relief is awarded and you are only responsible for one property but you subsequently become responsible for Business Rates for a second property, please contact the Business Rates section immediately to confirm whether you will remain entitled to relief.

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Charities, Non-Profit Making Organisations and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC)


If a ratepayer is a registered charity and the property is used for charitable purposes (by the charity itself or another charity) then 80% mandatory rate relief can be awarded, providing the property is being wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.

Additionally, the Councils can award up to 20% discretionary relief in accordance with the Councils' policies (see the section below).

Non-Profit Making Organisations

Where a ratepayer is a not-for-profit organisation there is no entitlement to 80% mandatory rate relief. However, discretionary relief of up to 100% of the rates bill may be awarded (see the section below).

The organisation's main objectives must be charitable, religious, or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or fine arts. Sporting organisations may also be treated as not-for-profit organisations, subject to the details described below regarding Community Amateur Sports Clubs.

Applications for up to 100% discretionary relief will be considered in accordance with the guidelines in the Councils' policies (see the section below).

Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC)

Community Amateur Sports Clubs are treated in the same way as registered charities and they will therefore be entitled to 80% mandatory relief and can be considered for a further 20% discretionary relief.

Applications for discretionary relief will be considered in accordance with the guidelines in the Councils' policies (see the section below).

How applications for discretionary relief are decided

Applications for discretionary relief for:

  • Up to 20% in respect of charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs; and
  • Up to 100% in respect of not-for-profit organisations

are considered in accordance with the guidelines in the Councils' Discretionary Rate Relief Policies. Adur and Worthing currently have different polices and copies of the scoring matrices that are used to determine discretionary awards are available below:

How to apply for both mandatory and discretionary relief

In order to apply for:

  • 80% mandatory relief only; or
  • 80% mandatory relief plus up to 20% discretionary relief; or
  • Up to 100% discretionary relief only (ie not-for-profit organisations)

please complete and return an application form (available below) together with the supporting evidence that's requested on page four of the form. Once we receive the form an Inspector will visit the property to confirm the details you have provided.

Please complete the application as fully as you can. We can only assess applications based on the information that we receive so it's better to provide more, rather than less, information. If you have any questions about completing an application or require further information, please contact the Revenues & Benefits Service.

If an application for discretionary relief is received after 30th September in any given year and the ratepayer qualifies for a reduction in their Business Rates bill, the award can only be backdated to the start of the current financial year.

When we have assessed your application we will write to you to confirm the outcome. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome please contact the Revenues & Benefits Service in the first instance.

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Rural rate relief

Certain types of properties in a rural settlement with a population below 3,000 may be entitled to relief. The property must be the only general store, the only post office or a food shop and have a rateable value of less than £8,500 or the only public house or the only petrol station and have a rateable value of less than £12,500. The property has to be occupied. An eligible ratepayer is entitled to relief at 50% of the full charge whilst the local authority also has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill.

In addition, the local authority has the discretion to remit all or part of the rate bill on other occupied properties in a rural settlement where the rateable value is less that £16,500 and the authority is satisfied that the property is used for a purpose that benefits the community.

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Rate Relief for pubs

In the Spring Budget on 8th March 2017 the Government announced that, as the result of the Business Rates revaluation that became effective from 1st April 2017, it would provide relief of up to £1,000 during 2017/18 for pubs that have a Rateable Value below £100,000.

In the Autumn Budget on 22nd November 2017 the Government announced that the relief for pubs would continue at £1,000 in respect of 2018/19. The relief ended from 31st March 2019 and this means that no relief can be granted in respect of 2019/20.

However, the Government has announced that the relief will be reintroduced from 1st April 2020 although at the time of producing new bills for 2020/21 the necessary legislation had not been passed.

The Revenues & Benefits Service attempted to identify those businesses that qualify for this relief from 1st April 2020 and if it was awarded it will be shown as a reduction in your bill.

However, as the result of pubs being eligible for 100% Retail Relief (see below), Pub Relief will not now be awarded in respect of 2020/21.

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Expanded Retail Relief

In the Autumn Budget on 29th October 2018 the Government announced that eligible retailers with a rateable value of below £51,000 would receive a one-third reduction in their Business Rates bills for 2019/20 and 2020/21.

To be awarded this relief in respect of 2019/20, properties must be occupied and being used wholly or mainly as shops, restaurants, cafes or drinking establishments for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public.

Consequently, occupied properties that are not being used wholly or mainly for these purposes by visiting members of the public do not qualify for relief. The reduction must be applied after all other mandatory reliefs have been granted.

The Government subsequently announced an intention that with effect from 1st April 2020 the reduction would be:

  • Increased from one-third to fifty percent off Business Rates; and
  • Extended to include cinemas and music venues

At the time that new bills were produced for 2020/21 the necessary legislation had not been passed but, in line with a request from the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government, the Revenues & Benefits Service applied the increased reduction when bills for 2020/21 were produced in February 2020.

The legislation was subsequently amended and for 2020/21 is known as 'Expanded Retail Relief' such that:

  • The level of relief is 100% for 2020/21
  • Properties that are wholly or mainly used for assembly or leisure purposes by visiting members of the public are eligible
  • Hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation are eligible

The Government also announced that an award of Expanded Retail Relief for 2020/21 is not subject to the State Aid rules (see below).

Revised Business Rates bills for 2020/21 (dated 16th April 2020 for Adur and 13th April 2020 for Worthing) were issued on 15th April 2020 and sent to those ratepayers that we identified as being eligible for Expanded Retail Relief.

Awards for the period prior to 1st April 2020 are subject to State Aid rules that mean that a business cannot receive more than €200,000 in a rolling three-year period (consisting of the current financial year and the previous two years). Further details on State Aid are available on the GOV.UK website.

Current Government advice is that the State Aid rules will be replicated once the UK leaves the European Union - see State aid if there's no Brexit deal on the GOV.UK website. This means that businesses with a number of properties are unlikely to qualify for Retail Relief prior to 1st April 2020.

Awards in respect of 2020/21 are not being treated as State Aid due to the Coronavirus situation, and therefore awards of Retail Relief will not be refused if all other qualifying criteria are met.

Guidance about the Expanded Retail Relief scheme issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is available at Business rates: Expanded Retail Relief - guidance on the GOV.UK website.

If Expanded Retail Relief has been awarded it will be shown as a reduction in your bill. If it isn't shown and you believe that you qualify, please complete and return the application form below:

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Local Discretionary Relief from 1st April 2017

Following the re-valuation of the Rateable Values that are used to calculate Business Rates bill from 1st April 2017, the Government announced that:

  • Each Council would be provided with funds to reduce the increases that some businesses were facing
  • Each Council could decide what the qualifying criteria should be for awards to be made

Following a public consultation during the autumn of 2017, the Members (Councillors) of Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council have decided that the qualifying criteria for businesses in this area will be:

  1. The ratepayer's bill for 2017/18 must be more than their bill for 2016/17 was (after all other reliefs and reductions have been applied)
  2. The ratepayer must have been liable for Business Rates at the same address on 1st January 2017
  3. The Rateable Value of the property must be more than £14,999 and less than £200,000

The Councils want to ensure that use of the additional funds that have been made available is maximised and applying the rules described above means that the net increase in bills:

  • For 2017/18 will be reduced by:
    • 30% in Adur
    • 38% in Worthing
  • For 2018/19 will be reduced by:
    • 21% in Adur
    • 13% in Worthing
  • For 2019/20 will be reduced by:
    • 14% in Adur
    • 18% in Worthing
  • The reductions for 2020/21 will be calculated during April/May 2020 and once relief is awarded, revised bills will be issued

Awards of this relief must comply with the EU law on State Aid such that the award of relief will not exceed the €200,000 that a business can receive under the De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013. Further information about State Aid is available on the website. See State Aid - on the GOV.UK website.

De Minimis States Aid includes local discretionary relief or relief for pubs that has been granted by other Councils in respect of properties in other areas, so this may be relevant to properties that are part of a large retail chain where the cumulative total of the relief received could exceed €200,000.

The €200,000 threshold should be calculated in respect of a rolling three-year period (consisting of the current financial year and the two previous financial years).

An application to apply for this relief is available below:

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Part occupied property

Section 44a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 gives the Council discretion to award relief if part of a property, eg a room or floor that is included in the rating assessment, is temporarily not being used.

Applications must be made in writing to the Revenues & Benefits Service and cannot be made retrospectively. Please include a detailed plan of the occupied/unoccupied areas with your application. Please tell us why part of the property is not being used, the date that it became unoccupied and the date that you expect it to be re-used.

When we have received your application we will contact you and arrange for our Revenues Inspector to visit the property to confirm the unoccupied areas.

If relief is approved, we will then contact the VOA to value the unoccupied part. This will then allow the Councils to treat this area as a separate unoccupied property for the purposes of awarding empty property relief.

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Hardship Relief

The Councils may, in exceptional circumstances, grant hardship relief to ratepayers whose circumstances have become so severe that not granting relief may cause unnecessary hardship - either financially or otherwise. The Council can only grant hardship relief if it is satisfied that:

  • The ratepayer would sustain hardship if the Council does not award relief; and
  • It would be reasonable to grant relief, having regard to the interests of Council Tax payers

Please note that you will need to include financial information including accounts and bank statements.

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Nursery Relief

As the result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Government has announced that qualifying nurseries will receive 100% Nursery Relief in respect of their Business Rates bill for 2020/21.

The relief will apply to properties where the ratepayer is on Ofsted's Early Years Register and they are wholly or mainly providing the Early Years Foundation Stage.

This relief is not treated as State Aid.

Revised Business Rates bills (dated 16th April 2020 for Adur and 13th April 2020 for Worthing) were issued on 15th April 2020 and sent to those ratepayers that we have identified as being eligible for this relief.

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Contact Details

Need assistance? Get in touch:

Adur Business Rates

Telephone01273 263111 (9am to 5pm, Mon to Fri)

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Full contact detailsFull contact details (Adur Business Rates)

Worthing Business Rates

Telephone01903 221061 (9am to 5pm, Mon to Fri)

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Full contact detailsFull contact details (Worthing Business Rates)

Page last updated: 14 May 2020