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Rate relief and reductions


Small business rate relief

You can get small business rate relief if you:

  • only use one property, and its rateable value is less than £15,000, or
  • use more than one property, and the rateable value of each of your other properties is less than £2,900

The rateable values of the properties are added together and the relief applied to the main property. Second properties will receive no additional reduction.

Amount you can receive:

  • if your 2017 rateable value is £12,000 or below, small business rate relief will be given at 100%
  • if your 2017 rateable value is between £12,001 and £15,000, the small business rate multiplier is used and relief will be given on a sliding scale - from 100% at the bottom of the range to 0% at the top
  • if your 2017 rateable value is between £15,001 and £51,000, the small business rate relief multiplier is used (even if you have more than one property)

Apply for small business rate relief.

The following table gives examples of how the relief is effected by the rateable value of a property:

Rateable valueReduction
£12,000 100%
£12,300 90%
£12,600 80%
£12,900 70%
£13,200 60%
£13,500 50%
£13,800 40%
£14,100 30%
£14,400 20%
£14,700 10%
£15,000 0%

Where applicable, relief can be backdated to 1 April 2012. The relief cannot be applied to empty properties.

Charitable rate relief

There are two types of charitable rate relief - mandatory and discretionary. You can get up to 80% relief for mandatory and up to 100% relief for discretionary.

You can apply if you meet any of the following:


  • a property that is in use by a charity or trustees for a charity and is used for charitable purposes
  • amateur community sports clubs can apply for relief if a property is used for charitable purposes
  • an empty property where the ratepayer is a charity or trustee for a charity and the property will be used for charitable purposes when next used


  • the ratepayer is a charity or trustees for a charity and the property will mainly be used for charitable purposes in the future
  • all or part of the property is in use for charitable purposes for one or more non-profit organisations
  • all or part of the property is occupied for the purpose of a non-profit club, society, or other organisation
  • the services provided by the registered charity / amateur sports club are directly for the benefit of taxpayers in the borough

Apply for charitable rate relief

Rating exemptions

Some types of land and property won’t have to pay business rates, these are:

  • agricultural land and buildings
  • fish farms
  • places of religious worship
  • sewers and properties belonging to drainage companies
  • parks
  • properties used for disabled people for example training, welfare services, workshops
  • air raid protection works
  • swinging moorings
  • road crossings over a river
  • property in enterprise zones
  • visiting forces

More information on the definitions of each of the types of properties and land is available on the legislation website.

Rural rate relief

The rural rate relief scheme was introduced to help protect the last retail outlets and similar services in rural settlements with a population of less than 3,000.

Designated rural areas have been defined by the Housing Act 1996 and for this council the following twelve parishes are affected:

  • Benenden
  • Bidborough
  • Brenchley
  • Capel
  • Cranbrook
  • Frittenden
  • Goudhurst
  • Hawkhurst
  • Horsmonden
  • Lamberhurst
  • Sandhurst
  • Speldhurst

The population of the parishes of Cranbrook, Goudhurst, Hawkhurst and Speldhurst exceed the 3,000 qualifying criteria.

Under the scheme, the following businesses in designated rural settlements are entitled to 100% mandatory rate relief:

  • the only food shop, general store or post office with a rateable value of less than £8,500
  • the only public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500

The property must be occupied.

It is possible for both a general store and a Post Office in the same rural area to qualify for mandatory rate relief, if they both meet the conditions.

To qualify for mandatory relief, a general store must mainly sell both food and general household goods. Only part of the property need be used as a general store. For example, the business of a general store and another business could be carried on side-by-side in one premises. If there are two general stores in the same rural area, neither will qualify for mandatory relief, although, if either functions as a Post Office, relief for this can be claimed separately.

The council can also give discretionary relief of up to 100% for a property in a rural area with a rateable value of £16,500 or less, if we are satisfied that:

  • the property is used for purposes which are of benefit to the local community; and
  • it would be reasonable for the council to award relief, having regard to the interest of the Council Tax payers in the district

Apply for rural rate relief

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief Scheme 2022/23

At the Budget on 27 October 2021 the Chancellor announced the introduction of a new business rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality and leisure properties worth almost £1.7 billion in 2022/23. This will support the businesses that make our high streets and town centres a success and help them to evolve and adapt to changing consumer demands. The 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme will provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 50% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.

Retail Discount will be awarded automatically where the qualifying criteria are clearly satisfied.

The cash caps apply at a Group company level (so holding companies and subsidiaries cannot claim up to the cash cap for each company) and to organisations which, although not a company, have such an interest in a company that they would, if they were a company, result in its being the holding company.

Find further details on Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme: local authority guidance on GOV.UK.

You will need to inform the authority, on a self-assessment basis, if you are in breach of the cash caps. If you have exceeded the cash cap on other properties and wish to refuse to receive the expanded retail discount granted in relation to the premises to which this bill and letter relates, please notify us in writing at

Opting out

You do have the option this year to refuse the expanded retail discount. If you wish to opt-out of the support, please contact the business rates team.

Further information on Business rates relief - retail discount on GOV.UK.

If you have any queries or require assistance when you receive your bill, please email

Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund

COVID-19 has presented a significant and unprecedented challenge for businesses. Since the start of the pandemic the Government’s response to support businesses has been of a similarly unprecedented scale. The Government has provided over £400 billion of direct support to the economy during this financial year and last, which has helped to safeguard jobs, businesses and public services in every region and nation of the UK through the pandemic. The Government’s support has included making £16 billion available to provide business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure properties, given the direct impact of COVID-19 and the Government’s interventions on businesses in these sectors.

On 25 March the Government announced a new COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) of £1.5 billion. The fund will be available to support those businesses affected by the pandemic but that are ineligible for existing support linked to business rates.

Whilst the council has determined its own scheme for the allocation of the funding received from the Government, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has stated that, in order for the council to receive the allocated funding, it must:

  1. not award relief to ratepayers who for the same period of the relief either are or would have been eligible for the Extended Retail Discount (covering Retail, Hospitality and Leisure), the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS),
  2. not award relief to a hereditament for a period when it is unoccupied (other than hereditaments which have become closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19, which should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief), and
  3. direct their support towards ratepayers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact.

The council has decided that where a ratepayer meets all of the relevant criteria, relief will be 35% of the 2021/22 liability after any other reliefs and reductions have been applied.


  1. the ratepayer is not eligible for the Expanded Retail Discount, the Nursery Discount or the Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme (AGOSS);
  2. the ratepayer is not entitled to either Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief granted at 100%;
  3. the ratepayer is not entitled to mandatory relief (80%);
  4. the hereditament is treated as occupied by the council and the ratepayer must have been shown as in occupation on the council’s records at 10 December 2021 and continuously thereafter;
  5. the ratepayer confirms that they have been adversely affected by the pandemic and have been unable to adequately adapt to that impact;
  6. the ratepayer is not subject to Subsidy Control;
  7. the hereditament is not excluded, as per the section below.

Excluded Hereditaments:

  • financial services – banks, building societies, Insurance providers & brokers, accountancy, insolvency practitioners;
  • Professional Services – Solicitors, Architects, Surveyors, planning consultants;
  • Storage and distribution – Warehouses, Self-storage, Haulage, Couriers;
  • Information, Communications & Technology – network & infrastructure providers, consultancy services;
  • Public services – Government Agencies, NHS Premises, Rail operators, Royal Mail, Housing Providers, waste disposal; and
  • Education – private and public schools and colleges.

The list of examples is not definitive.

The council’s COVID-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) scheme is subject to the subsidies chapter within the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). However, for CARF there is an exemption for subsidies under the value of approximately £2,243,000 per economic actor (broadly speaking, for example, a holding company and its subsidiaries).

Awards under the CARF scheme have been automatically awarded. However, if you feel that you qualify for this relief but it is not showing on your bill, please email


Empty property

You may be eligible for relief if your property is empty and unfurnished. You can receive 100% relief for the first three months the property is empty and unfurnished. If the property is industrial, for example a warehouse, you will receive the relief for six months. When the 100% relief period has ended you will need to pay the full amount.

If the property is a listed building or has a rateable value which is less than £2,900 you won’t have to pay business rates on an empty property. Once your property is occupied the exemption will stop.

Apply for empty property relief

Hardship relief

If you’re having trouble paying your business rates you can apply for hardship relief. This is given at our discretion, is only a short-term relief and will only be given if it is in the interest of the community and taxpayers of the borough.

Apply for hardship relief

Part occupied property

You can apply to pay less business rates if only part of your property is occupied. The unoccupied part must only be empty for a short time. We will ask the valuation officer for a certificate advising what the rateable value of the occupied part of your property is and you will only get charged for that part.

Apply for part empty relief

Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Relief (SSB)

The transitional relief scheme and supporting small business relief was introduced in 2017 to help those ratepayers who were faced with higher bills as a result of the revaluation. The scheme ends on 31 March 2022, as a result a small number of ratepayers would face a jump to their full rates bill from 1 April 2022.

At the Budget on 27 October 2021 the government therefore announced that it would extend the current transitional relief scheme and the supporting small business scheme for one year to the end of the current revaluation cycle.

The transitional relief 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 relief scheme will restrict increases in bills to 15% for businesses (or a cash value increase of £600 if greater).

We have automatically identified those ratepayers who should receive this relief and have applied it to their bill.

If you feel that you qualify for this relief but it is not showing on your bill, please email