Business rates exemptions, reliefs and reductions

You can read our Discretionary Rate Relief Policy here (pdf)

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Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF)

The government has given us approximately £1.64 million to provide discretionary relief to businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but who haven’t been eligible for any assistance from other Covid-19 relief schemes. The funding will help eligible businesses with their 2021-22 business rates bill.

We have been told to direct the funding towards businesses who have been adversely affected by the pandemic in a way that prevents success or development; harmfully or unfavourably and have been unable to adapt to that impact.

We have introduced a policy to allocate this money to businesses and we are now in a position to start making payments.

Businesses excluded from the scheme

The government has said that the following must be excluded from our scheme:

  • Businesses who have received or are otherwise eligible for:
    • Expanded Retail Discount (those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors)
    • Nursery Discount (Early Foundation Years Education providers), or
    • the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS).
  • Unoccupied properties
  • Local, town, parish and county councils.

In addition to the exclusions we have to make, we will also be excluding the following sectors from receiving relief:

  • Retail property such as shops, kiosks, supermarkets, superstores and retail warehouses
  • Parking including car parking and car park spaces
  • Animal care including vets
  • Clubs and associations including clubhouses
  • Educational establishments including schools, colleges
  • Financial and professional services including banks, ATMs, solicitors, accountants, financial advisors
  • Public bodies including those bodies that receive public funding 
  • Storage/storage premises, Logistics, Nationwide Retailers and Distribution
  • Postal/ courier/ home delivery services including sorting offices
  • Telecommunication hereditaments and other utilities including communication stations, distributor networks and sewage works
  • Healthcare hereditaments
  • Property developments and management businesses
  • Employment agencies

In order to come up with a scheme to help as many eligible ratepayers as possible, we have had to make some assumptions about the types of business that will and won’t be eligible for help.

If we have identified your business as eligible for relief
We are writing to businesses that we have identified as being eligible for a payment from the CARF scheme and we will apply the relief to your business rates account in early September. You will receive a revised bill for the 2021/22 financial year to confirm the award. You do not need to do anything, unless your business:

  • falls into an excluded category
  • wishes to opt out of the scheme, or
  • will exceed subsidy allowances.

If you have already paid your business rates for the 2021/22 financial year, granting this relief will create a credit on your account. This credit will:

  • be allocated towards any arrears you have on your business rates account
  • reduce any ongoing business rates liability (for 2022/23)
  • create a credit on your account. This will be shown on your revised bill. You can claim this refund by providing us with your bank details.

Opt out of relief
Reasons you may wish to opt out of receiving this relief:

  • you receive a letter but do not want to receive the relief
  • your business is in one of the excluded categories, but we have mistakenly identified it as eligible for relief, or
  • your business will exceed the third subsidy threshold by receiving this relief (£12,243,000)

Should you wish to do so please e-mail us at businessrates@tamworth.gov.uk

If your business will exceed the second subsidy threshold (£2,243,000) by receiving this relief, you will need to provide additional information to show us that you qualify for the relief. Please email us at businessrates@tamworth.gov.uk with the subject line ‘CARF Subsidy Query’ and confirm how much subsidy your business has received over the last three years. We will contact you if we need more evidence.

Subsidy allowance
Providing discretionary relief to ratepayers is likely to amount to a subsidy. Any relief provided by us under the CARF Scheme will need to comply with the UK’s domestic and international subsidy control obligations.

Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance
To administer a subsidy under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance it is necessary for the Local Authority to establish that the award of subsidy will not result in the economic actor having received more than £343,000 of subsidy under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance.

The Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Allowance
For the purposes of this scheme, the COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund Allowance, permits an economic actor to receive additional relief of up to a further £1,900,000 for COVID-19 related losses.

This may be combined with the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance to permit an economic actor to receive up to £2,243,000 from the CARF Scheme (or less if they have already used some of their Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit or claimed other COVID-19 related subsidies).

Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Further Allowance

If an economic actor has reached the £2,243,000 limit set out above, then it may still be able to receive up to a further £10 million as a COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund Further Allowance under the CARF Scheme, if it satisfies the following conditions:

  1. the relief relates to uncovered fixed costs (i.e. costs not covered by profits or insurance etc) during the period of COVID-19 (commencing 1 March 2020). An economic actor may benefit from relief up to 70% of their uncovered costs (although this 90% limit does not apply to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than £9 million turnover), and
  2. the enterprise has shown a decline in turnover during the eligible period of at least 30% compared to the same period in 2019.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme

This scheme will provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with 50% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business. Ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties up to the maximum £110,000 cash cap per business.

Businesses may benefit from the relief provided the property to which the relief relates is occupied and is wholly or mainly used:

i. as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas or live music venues; or
ii. for assembly and leisure; or
iii. as hotels, guest & boarding premises or self-catering accommodation

For a full list of eligible business uses, further details are provided via the following link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-guidance-202223-retail-hospitality-and-leisure-relief-scheme/202223-retail-hospitality-and-leisure-relief-scheme-local-authority-guidance.

We have automatically applied the discount to properties that we think qualify.  If your business fits the criteria for the discount and has not received it please email businessrates@tamworth.gov.uk

Businesses are ineligible to the relief where the property is not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public or where the property is being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public: Financial services; Medical services; Professional services; Post Office sorting offices.

You may opt out of receiving the discount in 2022/23 by notifying us by 30 April 2023 that you wish to refuse to receive the discount in relation to the premises your bill refers to. Please be aware that once you have refused the discount, you cannot withdraw your refusal for all or any part of the discount period.

If you wish to decline the relief please complete and return the form below:

Extension of Transitional and Supporting Small Business Relief

We are currently waiting for a software update in order to award this relief.

The current transitional relief scheme and the supporting small business scheme are being extended for one year to the end of the current revaluation cycle i.e. 31 March 2023.  This scheme will restrict increases in bills to 15% for businesses with small properties (up to and including £20,000 rateable value) and 25% for medium properties (up to and including £100,000 rateable value).

The Supporting Small Business element of the scheme restricts the amount by which the rates payable may increase compared with that due for 2021/22 by £600 or by 15%, whichever is the greater.

In relation to Transitional Relief, increases in bills are restricted to 15% for businesses with small properties (up to and including £20,000 rateable value) and 25% for medium properties (up to and including £100,000 rateable value).  No relief will be applied to properties where the rateable value exceeds £100,000 and will be liable to pay the full charge (allowing for mandatory rate relief, etc).

Further details may be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-guidance-extension-of-transitional-relief-and-supporting-small-business-relief-for-small-and-medium-properties/extension-of-transitional-relief-and-supporting-small-business-relief-for-small-and-medium-properties.

Eligibility

If your bill shows any discretionary relief or discount it is because we believe you’re entitled to the named reduction. The reduction will only run until the end of the financial year unless there is a change of circumstance which affects your entitlement.

If you feel you are not entitled or exceed the cash cap or subsidy control (see below) please notify us immediately so your account can be adjusted.

If you feel you may be entitled to a relief that is not showing please complete the declaration below and return to   businessrates@tamworth.gov.uk

Cash Cap and Subsidy Control

Under the cash cap, no ratepayer can in any circumstances exceed the £110,000 cash cap across all of their hereditaments in England. Where a ratepayer has a qualifying connection with another ratepayer then those ratepayers should be considered as one ratepayer for the purposes of the cash caps. A ratepayer shall be treated as having a qualifying connection with another:

a. where both ratepayers are companies, and (i) one is a subsidiary of the other, or (ii) both are subsidiaries of the same company; or

b. where only one ratepayer is a company, the other ratepayer (the “second ratepayer”) has such an interest in that company as would, if the second ratepayer were a company, result in its being the holding company of the other.

Under Small Amounts of Financial Assistance Allowance rules, relief is limited to receive Special Drawing Rights (£343,000 as at 9 December 2021) in a three-year period (consisting of the 2022/23 year and the two previous financial years). Expanded Retail Discount granted in either 2020/21 or 2021/22 does not count towards the £343,000 allowance but BEIS business grants (throughout the 3 years) and any other subsidies claimed under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit will be counted.  Where it is clear to the Council that the ratepayer is likely to breach the cash cap or the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit, the Council will automatically withhold the relief.

Recalculations

The amount of relief may be recalculated in the event of a change in circumstances and applied at any time.  Such changes may include the rateable value, the property becoming vacant or liability ending.

Reviews and Appeals

Where a ratepayer is aggrieved by a decision regarding the granting, non-granting or the amount of discretionary rates relief, the case will be reviewed by the Revenues Manager.  If the Council’s decision is upheld (in part or in full), the case may be further reviewed by the Council’s section 151 Officer whose decision will be final.

Where any ratepayer still remains aggrieved, the formal process to appeal is via Judicial Review.

Fraud

Where a ratepayer falsely applies for any relief, or provides false information or makes false representation or withholds information in order to gain relief, prosecutions will be considered under the Fraud Act 2006.

Empty property

A brief outline of empty property in relation to business rates is included below. If you have any queries regarding this, please contact the Billing Team of 01827 709530.

Empty relief and charges
Where a business rates property is completely empty, it may be subject to a reduction in rates payable.
Where a property is empty, the ratepayer will be the person liable to possession. If there is a dispute between parties regarding who this is, we will make a judgement based on evidence provided and, if necessary, on the balance of probability.
Some property is never considered empty for rating purposes. For example advertising rights are always regarded as occupied. If the actual advertising boards are removed the VOA may remove the assessment from the rating list.
Some items may be disregarded when deciding whether a property is empty, such as plant and machinery.

Empty rate exemptions

Recently empty property: If a property has been empty for less than three months it will be exempt from empty rates. If the property is industrial (for example used for manufacturing, storage or mineral processing), this exemption is extended to six months. The exemption ends if the property is reoccupied before the exemption end date. The exemption does not restart if the ratepayer changes as it is conditional on how long the property has been empty. Also if the property is reoccupied but remains occupied for less than six weeks, the three or six month period is calculated from the earlier empty date.

Land, etc.: Empty rates are only charged in respect of buildings, therefore if a business rates property does not include buildings it will not be charged empty rates. This will include mobile phone masts.

Properties left empty by a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) or charity: The exemption will only apply if the property when next in use is expected to be used for the purposes of that charity or CASC (or by that charity/ CASC together with others). If there is little evidence to suggest this is the case, then it is unlikely this exemption will be awarded.

Occupation prohibited by law: If an owner is prohibited from occupying a property or allowing it to be occupied then this exemption may apply. However if the prohibition is for specific purposes or related to a specific individual or organisation, the property could be occupied for other means and would therefore not be exempt.

Listed buildings and ancient monuments: Where the empty property is a listed building or a designated ancient monument, an exemption will be applied.

Low rateable value or undergoing major improvements: If a property has a rateable value of under £2,600, it will be exempt from rates while empty.

Major improvement works will not entitle a ratepayer to an empty exemption; however the VOA may consider reducing the rateable value of the property while substantial alterations are being carried out.

Representatives of deceased/ insolvent persons or bodies: An exemption will also apply where the property is empty and the ratepayer is:

  • Only entitled to possession in their capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person
  • Bankrupt
  • Trustee under a deed of arrangement
  • Subject to a winding up order
  • Entitled to possession in their capacity as liquidator of a company
  • A company in administration or subject to an administration order

We will require evidence to confirm that the relevant person is the ratepayer in these circumstances. If the property is leased, rented or similar we may need to make further enquiries regarding whether such agreements are ongoing.

Completion notices

Where a newly constructed property needs to be brought into the rating list but remains empty we may serve a completion notice to notify the owner of the date we consider the property complete for rating purposes. This notice may indicate a date up to three months in advance, for example if the property is not complete now but we consider could be completed in the near future.
Before serving a completion notice we are likely to have visited the property and consulted with our planning department to establish what work is required for completion and how long that could reasonably be expected to take.
The completion notice date will be the date the VOA use as the date the rateable value commences and the date the three or six month empty exemption will start from if the property remains empty.
If you receive a completion notice and do not agree with the date use, contact the Billing Team on 01827 709530 and we can discuss the property’s circumstances. If a date cannot be agreed an appeal can be made to the Valuation Tribunal.

Part occupation relief (Section 44a relief)

Where a property is only part occupied for a short period of time, we have the discretionary power to request the VOA provide a certificate showing the occupied and empty rateable value proportions.
If part of a property is temporarily unoccupied such as for a phased occupation or vacation of a property, you may be able to claim a reduction in your Business Rates for the unoccupied part. The area concerned must be totally unused (i.e. not used as a walkway) and where possible isolated from the occupied area.

If you think you may be eligible for a reduction, you should write to the Business Rates department and enclose:

  • Details showing which part of the property is unoccupied (if possible enclose a site plan)
  • The date this part of the property became unoccupied

When we receive the request our inspector will visit the property and we will then decide if a reduction can be allowed. If we decide to grant 44a relief we will request a certificate from the valuation officer that gives the proportion of the property's rateable value which applies to the unoccupied part. If we do grant relief it will only be for a maximum of three months for commercial assessments or six months for an industrial assessment. After this time 100% rates will be due. Retrospective requests will require supporting evidence such as photographs, work dockets, etc.
Please note that submitting false or misleading evidence for financial gain is a crime under the Fraud Act 2006 and could lead to prosecution.   
When we receive the certificate from the valuation officer, we will reduce your Business Rates accordingly.

How to Reduce Your Bill

State Aid
European Union competition rules generally prohibit Government subsidies to businesses. Non-domestic rate relief can constitute state aid. Generally speaking, this can apply to all discretionary reliefs for commercial bodies. There is, however a “de minimis” threshold for this of €200,000 for any business over a rolling three year period under EC1407/2013. This is a cumulative figure for all Government grants including business rates relief.

We are likely to ask for confirmation from you when awarding relief that such an award would not exceed these limits. If, however we award relief that you feel would lead to you exceeding the threshold you should contact us for the relief to be cancelled. Further information on State Aid law can be found at: www.gov.uk/state-aid

Charitable & Not for Profit Relief
Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) may be entitled to 80% mandatory rate relief. To qualify, the property must be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes or the purposes of the CASC.
Mandatory relief will not therefore be awarded in respect of properties where only a small portion is used for these purposes. In addition to this, we may consider relief for up to the remaining 20% due where mandatory relief has been awarded.
Up to 100% relief may be awarded where the property is used by “not for profit” bodies whose main objects are charitable, philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts.
Up to 100% relief may also be awarded where the property is wholly or mainly used for the purposes of recreation and all or part of it is occupied for the purposes of a club, society or other “not for profit” organisation.
Please contact the Billing Team on 01827 709530 for an application form if you wish to apply.

Small Business Rates Relief
Small properties with a rateable value of under £51,000 will generally qualify for a reduction in the rates payable. The multiplier for these properties will be lower than any with a larger rateable value. For example in 2020/21 the multiplier for properties under £51,000 is 49.9 pence in the pound compared to 51.2 pence in the pound for larger properties. The higher multiplier continues to apply to empty properties or those in receipt of other relief. 
In addition, ratepayers may be awarded further small business rate relief where they only have one non-domestic property and it has a rateable value of under £15,000. Where the rateable value is between £12,001 and £14,999, relief is awarded on a sliding scale based on the rateable value. If the property has a rateable value of £12,000 and below, there can be 100% rates relief.
There are circumstances where a ratepayer owns more than one non-domestic rates property that they can qualify for relief, but the other properties must have a rateable value of under £2,900 and the total rateable value of all properties must be below £20,000.
You must notify us of any change that may affect your entitlement to small business rate relief within four weeks of that change.

The Government has announced a grant of £10,000 for businesses that get small business rate relief. We will publish more information on how this is going to be given as soon as we can.

Local newspaper relief
The £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspapers will apply for an additional 5 years until 31 March 2025.

Expanded Retail Discount 2021-22

At the Budget on 3 March 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Government would provide additional business rates support for eligible retail, hospitality, leisure businesses in England occupying a qualifying property.

As temporary measure for 2021/22 he announced that:

  • The expanded retail discount (2020/21) will be extended for three months for eligible properties, at 100% relief, uncapped, for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.
  • From 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022, the expanded retail discount would apply at 66% relief for eligible properties in the scheme, with a cash cap of £2m for businesses that were required to close as at 5 January 2021, and up to £105,000 for business permitted to open at that date.
  • For the expanded retail discount 2021/22 businesses may choose to opt out of support by providing billing authorities notification of their request to refuse support, per eligible hereditament.

To be eligible for this discount, the retail premises must:

  • Be occupied
  • Be wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinema, live music venues, hotels, guest and boarding premises, self-catering accommodation, sport and leisure facilities, tourist attractions, community halls and clubhouses used by for assembly and leisure by visiting members of the public.
  • Premises being used for the following will not be eligible for the discount:
  • Financial services (for example banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers) 
  • Medical services (for example vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors) 
  • Professional services (for example solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers) 
  • Post office sorting offices 
  • Properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

The Government has provided guidance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-expanded-retail-discount-2021-to-2022-local-authority-guidance/business-rates-expanded-retail-discount-2021-to-2022-local-authority-guidance on the types of businesses that qualify for this discount.

How to apply for discount

We will automatically apply the discount to properties that we think will qualify. If you feel your business fits the criteria for the discount and have not received it, you can apply for retail discount by completing the application form in the link below:

If you require any further information regarding this please contact: Business-Rates@tamworth.gov.uk

Nursery (childcare) Discount 2021-22

At the Budget on 3 March 2021, the Chancellor announced that the Government would provide additional business rates support for eligible nursery businesses in England occupying a qualifying property.

As temporary measure for 2021/22 he announced that:

  • The Nursery discount (2020/21) will also be extended for three months, at 100%, uncapped, for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.
  • From 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 the Nursery discount would apply at 66% relief for eligible properties, with a cash cap of £105,000.
  • For the Nursery discount 2021/22, businesses may choose to opt out of support by providing billing authorities notification of their request to refuse support, per eligible hereditament.
  • To be eligible for this discount, the premises must:
  • Be occupied by providers on Ofsted's Early Years Register and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

How to apply for discount

We will automatically apply the discount to properties that we think will qualify. If you feel your business fits the criteria for the discount and have not received it please contact at Business-Rates@tamworth.gov.uk

The Government has provided https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-nursery-childcare-discount-2021-to-2022-local-authority-guidance/business-rates-nursery-childcare-discount-2021-to-2022-local-authority-guidance

Business Rates - Telecom Fibre Optics Relief

From 1st April 2017, Government has funded a five year 100% business rates relief scheme for premises that install new full-fibre communications infrastructure. The new Business Rates Telecom Fibre Optics Relief scheme will support the rollout of new national full-fibre broadband infrastructure and future 5G communications to homes and businesses.

Other Reliefs
See the section on empty properties for information regarding empty exemptions and part occupation relief. Some areas will award relief in respect of properties in rural settlements or Enterprise Zones. As there are no such areas in Tamworth these reliefs are not available.

We also have a general power to grant relief in other circumstances, such as when the ratepayer is experiencing hardship that the award of relief could ease. Contact us at Business-Rates@tamworth.gov.uk