Relief for Businesses


Small business rate relief

From 1 April 2017 ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value less than £51,000 (and who are not entitled to other mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates) will automatically have their bills calculated using the lower small business multiplier, rather than the standard multiplier.

Businesses occupying one property

In addition, if your business occupies only one property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less then you will qualify for 100% relief. If the rateable value is between £12,001 and £15,000 the rate of relief will go down gradually from 100% to 0%. For example if your rateable value is £13,500, you’ll get 50% off your bill. If your rateable value is £14,000, you’ll get 33% off. You must inform us of any  change of circumstances, e.g. if your business has moved into an additional premises, or there is a change to the rateable value of your property.

Business occupying more than one property

You may still qualify for small business rate relief on your main occupied property, providing each of your other properties has a rateable value of less than £2,900, and the total value of all your properties is under £20,000. If you have taken occupation of an additional business premises since 1st April 2014 which would stop your entitlement to small business rate relief, you will still continue to receive it on the main property for a period of one year. You must inform us of any  change of circumstances, e.g. if your business has moved into an additional premises, or there is a change to the rateable value of any of your properties.

Applying for small business rate relief

If you wish to apply for small business rate relief, please use our small business rate relief application


Empty property relief

There are a few circumstances where a property may qualify for empty property business rate relief. No business rates will be charged for the first 3 months of a business being empty, or for the first 6 months of an industrial property being empty. If the premises is newly built and empty there will be an 18 month relief period. Full rates will be charged after this time has elapsed, unless any of the following scenarios can be applied to the premises:

  • If the ratepayer is a charity or a trustee of a charity and it appears that the next use of the premises is likely to be mainly for charitable purposes
  • If the ratepayer is a registered club and it appears that the premises will remain a registered club when next in use
  • The rateable value is less than £2,900 (from 1st April 2017)
  • Occupation is prohibited by law
  • Vacant due to action being taken by a court
  • Subject to building preservation notice (listed building)
  • Included in a schedule of monuments as compiled under the Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979(b)
  • Owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as personal representative of a deceased person
  • In respect of the owner’s estate there subsists a bankruptcy order
  • Owner is entitled to possession as a trustee under deed of arrangement
  • Owner is a company either subject to a winding-up order, or being voluntarily wound up under the Insolvency Act 1996
  • Owner is in administration or subject to an administration order
  • Owner is entitled to possession in capacity as liquidator

If you believe that your business is entitled to claim an exemption under any of these terms, please email No further exemptions will be applied until full occupation is charged for a period of 6 weeks or more.


Charitable and not for profit organisations

If a premises is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes, it will be awarded an 80% discount. The council can also award relief on properties occupied by not for profit organisations. Please see our Discretionary Rate Relief policy.pdf [pdf] 41KB for more information. If you would like to apply for this reduction, please complete and return the Arun Mandatory and Discretionary Rate Relief Application 2018-19.pdf [pdf] 90KB


Hardship rate relief 

In exceptional circumstances, we can give hardship relief to a ratepayer in difficulty. Hardship relief is a discount on the rates payable for a specific period. It's a discretionary relief, which means it's not guaranteed.

You might be able to get hardship relief if your business is suffering unexpected hardship (financial or otherwise) and all the following apply:

  • the circumstances leading to the hardship are both beyond the control of the business and outside of the normal risks associated with running a business
  • the difficulties are temporary and the business has a good chance of being viable in the long term
  • the business might fail if we don't give hardship relief

You must be able to show you are taking reasonable steps to help yourself. We would expect you as a business owner to do everything you can to tackle the problems you are facing. This might mean, for example, getting business advice, reducing overheads, reviewing pricing, offering discounts, extending the range of stock or services, or negotiating with creditors.

You can't get hardship relief to help establish a new business, unless the viability of the business is threatened by events you couldn't reasonably have foreseen.

How much hardship relief businesses can get

If we decide to give a discount, you could get up to 100% off your bill.

State aid rules

Discretionary rates relief usually counts as state aid. The law says you can't have more than €200,000 in state aid (including EU aid) over a rolling three year period. You must tell us if you've had any other state aid.

How to apply for hardship rate relief

Please write or email providing us with the following:-

  • A detailed explanation of why you asking for rate relief
  • Provision of the address/es concerned
  • Last 3 years audited accounts
  • A statement as to the reasons why payment of Business Rates would cause hardship
  • A statement providing details of what solutions you have explored to increase profitability and reduce outgoings
  • A note of how many employees you have
  • A list of other local businesses that you deal with together with reasons 
  • Any other information which you consider relevant

What happens next

We'll consider your application taking into account what you tell us about the situation and the efforts you are making to help yourself. As hardship relief is a discretionary relief, we also have to consider whether giving you relief is good use of Council Tax payer's money.

We look at what's reasonable financially and also at whether the loss of the business would harm the local community. We're more likely to give hardship relief in situations such as:

  • where jobs will be lost if we don't
  • where a business provides the only goods or services of a particular type in the local area
  • where the business supplies specialist goods or services that aren't widely available 

Once we've made our decision, we'll send you a new bill or let you know why you can't get a discount.

We try to make decisions within 4 weeks of getting all the information.

If you disagree with our decision, you can appeal.

Renewing hardship rate relief

Hardship rate relief doesn't renew automatically, but you can reapply.  


Help for rural areas

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 100% of the charge. If you think your business qualifies for this relief or would like more information, please email or contact 01903 737752.


Partially occupied properties

If a business premises is partially occupied, the council can split the rateable value between the occupied and unoccupied areas. The relief for the empty areas would apply for 3 months (or 6 months if it is an industrial property). The council would normally only apply the relief if the partial occupation is temporary, for reasons such as the phased moving into/out of a premises, or if damage to the property has made some areas unusable. Please email  with information on the premises, the reason for the partial occupation and the date you expect the premises to be fully occupied or completely empty. Please note that an inspector will visit the premises before the application can be considered.


Business rates - Spring 2017 budget changes

On the 8 March 2017 the Chancellor announced proposals for additional schemes of relief that will be made available (subject to qualifying criteria) to help businesses and pubs to manage the impact of large increases in the 2017 revaluations.

Supporting small businesses relief

Because of the changes made to rateable values in the revaluation, some ratepayers have lost some or all of their Small Business or Rural Rate Relief. This has resulted in some businesses experiencing large increases in their bills. To support these businesses, the new Supporting Small Business Relief ensures that the increase will be limited to £600 per year.

Awards of the relief must comply on EU law on State Aid such that the award will not exceed the 200,000 euros that a business can receive under the De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013.


Discretionary relief scheme

The government has set up a £300m discretionary fund to support those businesses facing the steepest increases in their business rates as a result of the revaluation. This will be available from the 1 April 2017 for four years. The idea is that every billing authority in England will be provided with a share of this fund which authorities will use in order to develop their own discretionary relief schemes so they can deliver targeted support. Please see  Arun's discretionary scheme [docx] 85KB.