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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

Expanded retail discount

In the Budget on 3 March 2021, the Chancellor announced that the expanded retail discount and the nursery discount are to be extended into 2021/22.

The discounts are set at:

  • 100% for 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021, uncapped
  • 66% for 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022*

*Expanded retail discount for 1 July 2021 to 31 March is capped at £2 million for businesses closed during the national lockdown starting 5 January 2021 and at £105,000 for businesses legally allowed to open (nursery discount is capped at £105,000 for all eligible businesses).

If you received either discount in 2020/21, we have automatically carried the discount forward.

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 of the cash caps on the GOV.UK website using the following links:

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 or the nursery 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 or nursery discount. If you wish to opt-out of the support, please contact the business rates team on receipt of this letter.

Further information on the discounts can be found via the following links:

If you have any queries or require assistance when you receive 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

Supporting small businesses

This relief is available to ratepayers who have lost some or all of their small business rate relief or rural rate relief as a result of an increase in rateable value in the 2017 revaluation. This relief was introduced from 1 April 2017 to help phase-in large percentage increases for those affected.

This scheme limits any increase in business rates to £600 per year and will apply for a maximum of five years. Relief will automatically be applied each year that the business is eligible to receive it; this could be every year for the five years or could end sooner if the bill amount without the relief is reached.

This means that in the first year of the scheme, all ratepayers losing some or all of their small business rate or rural rate relief will have the increase in their bill capped at £600. For year two to five onwards, the bill will increase by no more than £600 per year. This means that by year five, overall bills will increase by a maximum of £3,000.

Should your property become empty during the period of the scheme or if you are entitled to mandatory relief for charities or community amateur sports clubs, you will no longer be eligible to receive supporting small businesses relief and your bill will return to the full amount due without this relief.

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 contact the business rates team.