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Business rates reductions and relief

There are a number of different reductions available for business rates.

Transitional relief

Property values normally change a good deal between each revaluation. Transitional arrangements help to phase in the effects of these changes by limiting increases in bills. To help pay for the limits on increases in bills, there also have to be limits on reductions in bills.

Under the transition scheme, limits continue to apply to yearly increases and decreases until the full amount is due (rateable value times the appropriate multiplier). The scheme applies only to the bill based on a property at the time of the revaluation.

If there are any changes to the property after a revaluation, transitional arrangements will not normally apply to the part of a bill that relates to any increase in rateable value due to those changes. Any transitional adjustments are shown on the front of your bill.

Empty properties

Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that the property is empty (six months for certain industrial properties). After this period, empty rate is payable at the full rate. There are a number of exemptions such as listed buildings and land used as storage. Properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900 are also exempt.

Please remember to notify us immediately when you move or vacate any property. Documentary evidence may be required to alter our records.

Partly occupied property relief

A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, we have discretion to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part.

Mandatory relief

Mandatory relief is given to charities/friendly societies or the trustees of a charity, Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) or organisations which are specifically exempted from registration with the Charity Commission, where the property is being wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. In these cases the business rates will be reduced by 80%.

Discretionary relief

Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 empowers us to award certain businesses and organisations relief from rates. This relief can be awarded in addition to any mandatory relief to a body qualifying under Section 45.

There is a limited budget for discretionary rate relief and so it is necessary for us to restrict eligibility to certain organisations. Only organisations eligible for mandatory relief (80% relief funded by central government), can be awarded discretionary rate relief.

Those not eligible include: charity shops and cafés, housing associations, buildings used mainly for worship and bodies operating a restrictive membership policy. Different arrangements are in place for schools and museums.  

Hardship relief

This discretionary relief can be granted by us if you are experiencing hardship and your business is considered to be important to the local community.

Small business rate 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 the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with 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 a maximum of 100%. For a property with a rateable value of no more than £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a 100% reduction in their rates bill.

Generally, this percentage reduction 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, or the combined rateable value of all the properties, must not exceed £19,999 outside London or £27,999 in London on each day for which the reduction is being sought. If the 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 the relief for a period of 12 months.

Retail discount

At Autumn Budget 2018, the Government announced a one-third discount for eligible retail businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, up to state aid limits.

This scheme will run for two years from April 2019. This discount will be applied to the bill after the application of any reliefs, excluding any local discounts.

The Government has issued guidance on the operation of the scheme. This relief will be delivered through local council discretionary discount powers (under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988). For further information please contact us.

Discount for becoming a London Living Wage employer

You can get a discount on your business rates by becoming an accredited London Living Wage employer.


Please refer to the documents below for full details of eligibility before completing and submitting your application.


Business rates

London Borough of Lewisham, Business Rates, PO Box 58993, London, SE6 9GZ