Business rates relief

There are a number of business rate reliefs available. This page reflects changes to reliefs from 1 April 2017.

Retail relief

A new relief that starts from 1st April 2019 until 31st March 2021

Which properties will benefit from relief?

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments with a rateable value of less than £51,000, that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments. This includes:

  • Shops (such as florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets, etc)
  • Charity shops
  • Opticians
  • Post offices
  • Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
  • Car/ caravan show rooms
  • Second hand car lots
  • Markets
  • Petrol stations
  • Garden centres
  • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)
  • Hair and beauty services (such as: hair dressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc)
  • Shoe repairs/ key cutting
  • Travel agents
  • Ticket offices e.g. for theatre
  • Dry cleaners
  • Launderettes
  • PC/ TV/ domestic appliance repair
  • Funeral directors
  • Photo processing
  • Tool hire
  • Car hire
  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Coffee shops
  • Pubs
  • Bars

The list below sets out the types of uses that the Government does not consider to be retail use for the purpose of this relief.

  • Financial services (eg banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers).
  • Other services (eg estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies).
  • Medical services (eg vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors).
  • Professional services (eg solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors).
  • Post office sorting offices.

Apply for retail relief

Complete our Rate relief application form [PDF | 200KB] and return it to us via email at localtax@wycombe.gov.uk.

Small business rates relief

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 a property has 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 100 per cent. For a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less, the ratepayer will receive a 100 per cent reduction in their rates bill.

Generally, this percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either

  • one property
  • 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. 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.

If you think that you meet the criteria, but have not yet applied, please complete and return the small business rate relief application form [Word | 70KB] to localtax@wycombe.gov.uk.

Ratepayers in receipt of reliefs need to notify us of certain changes in circumstances:

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

We will pick up other changes.

Where an application for relief is granted and your circumstances do not change, you will not need to renew your application until the next revaluation which happens every five years.

Changes in circumstances

You must tell us if:

  1. you move into a business premises you did not occupy at the time of making an application for relief - you must make a new application for relief
  2. there is an increase in the rateable value of your business premises in an area outside of the Wycombe district, you must notify us in writing

We can also give relief on certain other occupied property rural areas where the rateable value is below £16,500.

Empty business premises relief

Business rates are not payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties.

You should let us know immediately your property becomes empty as relief may not be given retrospectively.

After this period, rates are payable in full unless one of the exemptions from empty property rates apply - for example for listed buildings, small properties, owners insolvency or where occupation is prohibited by law.

The unoccupied property rate is usually zero for properties owned by charities (and where the next use of the property can be shown to be used for charitable purposes) and community amateur sports clubs.

Empty properties with a rateable value below £2,600 are exempt from empty property rates.

To apply, please contact the business rates team.

Partially occupied premises relief

We have discretion to ask the Valuation Office Agency (Inland Revenue) to issue a certificate splitting the rateable value between occupied and unoccupied parts of a property for a temporary period. This is used to apply empty relief on the empty part of a property.

Where relief is granted the same maximum time periods apply as for ordinary empty business premises. This relief is part funded by the Council and so the interests of ratepayers as a whole will be taken into account with every application when deciding whether to grant relief.

If you would like more information please contact the business rates team.

Rural rate relief

Properties in rural areas with a population below 3,000 can claim 100 per cent rates reduction from 1 April 2017.

To be eligible, a property must be occupied and:

  • the area's only general store, post office or food shop (does not have to be the only food shop, all food shops are eligible) and with a rateable value below £8,500
  • the only pub or petrol station and with a rateable value below £12,500

The eligible ratepayer is entitled to relief at 100 per cent of the full charge. We also have discretion to give relief on certain other occupied property rural areas where the rateable value is below £16,500.

To apply, complete the form below and return it to us via email at localtax@wycombe.gov.uk.

Charitable relief

Charities are entitled to an 80 per cent mandatory relief where a property is completely occupied for charitable purposes. To apply, complete the form below and return it to us via email at localtax@wycombe.gov.uk.

Discretionary relief

We offer discretionary relief to organisations meeting locally set criteria, in particular non profit making community organisations such as community amateur sports clubs and community halls. To apply, complete the form below and return it to us via email at localtax@wycombe.gov.uk.

Hardship relief

In exceptional circumstances, we can grant hardship relief to a business for a limited period of time. 

 We will normally grant hardship relief only where:

  • external circumstances adversely impact on a business beyond its control
  • those circumstances are outside normal risks associated with running a business of that type

We will consider each application on its merits. 

When making a decision we will take the following into account:

  • We will look to satisfy ourselves that the ratepayer would sustain hardship if relief is not given and it is reasonable to do so having regard to the interests of council tax payers.
  • The hardship test need not be confined strictly to financial hardship: all relevant factors will be taken into account.
  • Granting relief helps the business overcome short term difficulties.

Local newspapers relief

Office space occupied by local newspapers may be eligible for a discount up to £1,500 a year for two years from 1 April 2017. The relief applies to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits.

If you think you may qualify for this relief, please contact us.

The pub relief scheme

This scheme is available from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2019. It applies to eligible occupied pubs with a rateable value of £100,000 or less. The relief is aimed at independently owned pubs that are not part of a chain. 

Eligible pubs should: 

  • be open to the general public
  • allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided
  • allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed
  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar

For these purposes, it excludes:

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • nightclubs
  • hotels
  • snack bars
  • guesthouses
  • boarding houses
  • sporting venues
  • music venues
  • festival sites
  • theatres
  • museums
  • exhibition halls
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • casinos

This relief will be applied directly to the rate account of eligible pubs. You do not need to make an application.

If you believe you qualify, but have not received a bill showing this relief please contact the business rate team.

Discretionary business rate scheme

A new relief that took effect from 1 April 2017 gives councils the discretion to award extra rate relief for businesses facing large increases as a result of their revaluation can apply to have the increase reduced.

Funds for this relief are limited which means that from 1 April 2019 each application for relief will be considered on its own merits.

Details are as follows:

  • Relief is aimed at local businesses.
  • The business must have seen a significant increase in business rates between 2016 and 2017. Awards will be made as a percentage reduction on the increase in rates from one year to another.
  • The scheme will normally apply to businesses with a rateable value below £200,000.
  • There will be a minimum award of £250 per year.
  • The following types of occupiers/properties will not qualify for relief:
    • unoccupied properties
    • ratepayers that occupy more than two properties
    • government buildings
    • betting and gambling premises
    • financial institutions including cash machines / automated teller machines (ATMs)
    • pawnbrokers and pay day lenders
    • sex shops
    • education establishments
    • NHS premises
    • premises occupied by a precepting authority (legislative restriction)
    • ratepayers already in receipt of mandatory/discretionary relief

Apply for discretionary business rate relief

Contact information

  • Telephone: 01494 412 226