Business rate fund for discretionary relief to support businesses

Information on business rates and the fund for discretionary relief.

In March 2017 the Government announced a new temporary relief for ratepayers in occupation of pubs and certain other small business ratepayers who were negatively affected as a result of the 2017 revaluation. Plus the establishment of a £300m discretionary fund over four years from 2017-18 to support those businesses that faced the steepest increases in their business rates bills as a result of the 2017 revaluation.

Councils have been given clear guidelines in how to determine the reliefs.  The relief will be administered through billing authorities’ discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Act 1988. 

Unlike other discretionary rate reliefs, this relief is wholly funded by the Government.   We will therefore maximise the use of the relief without putting council resources at risk.

Letters will be sent to the ratepayers who we believe may be entitled to the reliefs. 

Pub relief 

Relief will be awarded at a value of £1,000 for occupied pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 for 1 year from 1 April 2017.

Principles for awarding relief

Eligible pubs will:

  • be open to the general public
  • allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided
  • allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed
  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar

It excludes:

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • nightclubs
  • hotels
  • snack bars
  • guesthouses
  • boarding houses
  • sporting venues
  • music venues
  • festival sites
  • theatres
  • museums
  • exhibition halls
  • cinemas
  • concert hall
  • casinos

To be considered for an award under this policy the applicant must be in occupation of a public house and premises business rates assessment with a rateable value of less than £100,000.

Relief is subject to State Aid De Minimis checks and therefore a State Aid declaration will be required.

Apply for pub rate relief
To apply for this relief complete and return the Public House (pub) rate relief form (word doc, 30k) (opens new window) .

The relief will be shown as Discretionary Relief on your adjusted bill.

Supporting small business relief

The Supporting Small Business Relief (SSB) will help ratepayers who as a result of the change in rateable value at the revaluation are losing some or all of the small business relief and, as a result, are facing large increases in their bills.  Most properties will still fall within the increased Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) criteria for 2017 but a small number will lose some or all of their SBRR where the rateable value has increased above the new 2017 SBRR thresholds.

The scheme will ensure that the increase per year is limited to the greater of:

  • a percentage increase per annum of:
    • 5%       for 2017/18
    • 7.5%    for 2018/19
    • 10%     for 2019/20
    • 15%     for 2020/21
    • 15%     for 2021/22
  • or  a cash value of £600 per year (which ensures that those ratepayers paying nothing or very little in 2016/17 are brought into paying something)

Therefore in the first year of the scheme all ratepayers losing some or all of their SBRR will see the increase in their bill capped at £600. The cash minimum increase is £600 per year thereafter so by year five would be paying a maximum £3,000 per year.

  • those eligible for SSB with a 2017 RV in excess of £51,000 will also not have to pay the SBRR supplement (currently 1.3p in 2017/18)
  • eligibility lasts for a maximum of 5 years or until the bill you would have paid without the scheme
  • entitlement stays with the property so is not affected by a change of ratepayer
  • entitlement will be lost if the property falls vacant or becomes occupied by a charity or CASC
  • relief is subject to State Aid De Minimis checks and therefore a State Aid declaration will be required

Apply for small business relief
To apply for this relief complete and return the Supporting Small Business Relief Declaration (word doc, 39k) (opens new window) .

Revaluation hardship fund policy

The relief is to support those businesses that faced the steepest increases in their business rates bills as a result of the 2017 revaluation. The government have indicated that support, under the funding provided, should be considered for businesses that have rateable values of under £200,000 and have seen an increase of greater than 12.5% in their gross liabilities from 2016/17 to 2017/18.

Councils can determine how this fund will be targeted and administered to support those businesses and locations within their area that are in the greatest need.   The relief will be administered through billing authorities’ discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Act 1988. 

Bristol has been awarded £1.67M to be split over the next 4 years. The policy has been developed to deliver targeted support to our most hard-pressed ratepayers. The award for each year is:

  • 2017-18: £976,000
  • 2018-19: £474,000
  • 2019-20: £195,000
  • 2020-21: £28,000

The scheme will focus on growing the economy, creating jobs, improving skills and promoting a vibrant city by targeting relief at small and medium businesses in the city which may be less well placed to absorb business rates increases

Apply for the hardship fund

To apply for the hardship fund you can: 

You can also use the form you should have received in the post. These were sent to ratepayers in 2017 who we believed may be entitled to the relief.

Principles for awarding relief

To be considered for an award under this policy the applicant must:

  • as at 1 April 2017, be in occupation of a business rates assessment with a rateable value of less than £200,000
  • have been in occupation of the business rate assessment at 31 March 2017
  • have seen an increase of greater than 12.5% in their gross rates bill for 2017/18 when compared to 2016/17 

In order to ensure that we support those local businesses that have been hardest hit, our policy will exclude:

  • nationals (for example, banks, supermarkets and retail chains)
  • hereditaments that do not directly employ anyone (for example, parking spaces, advertising boards, communication masts, and ATMs)
  • hereditaments which are unoccupied
  • Bristol City Council or any precepting bodies
  • hereditaments in receipt of Enterprise Zone Relief

Application of the relief

An application form for a Section 47 Local Discount will need to be completed and submitted by 1 January 2018 in year 1 and by 1 January 2019 in year 2.

Any award will be subject to State Aid limitations.

How the relief will be calculated

The amount of relief awarded, for 2017/18, will be a percentage of the amount of the liability which exceeds the 12.5% increase to that for 2016/17. It will only be applied to accounts where the net liability has increased after all other relevant reliefs have been applied.