There are a number of different circumstances in which business rate reductions or relief apply.

1. Unoccupied property rating

You will not have to pay business rates for the first 3 months after a property becomes empty, as long as it has been previously occupied for a minimum of 6 weeks and 1 day. After 3 months, an empty property rate (100% of the occupied charge) has to be paid.

Certain Industrial properties are empty exempt for up to 6 months, when full rates then become payable. Listed buildings and small properties with rateable values of less than £2,600, pay no empty property rates even after the first 3 months have expired.

The Government has introduced a new temporary measure for unoccupied new builds from October 2013. They will be exempt from unoccupied rates for up to 18 months (up to state aid limits) where the property comes onto the list between October 1 2013 and September 30 2016. The 18 month period includes the initial 3 or 6 month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for up to an extra 15 or 12 months.

2. Charitable and discretionary relief

Charities are entitled to relief from rates on any non-domestic property that is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. The discount is 80% of the bill.

You can apply using the mandatory relief application form:

We have the discretion to give a discount on the remaining bill for charities, or for properties occupied by certain non-profit making bodies. We can also consider giving rate relief in cases of hardship or where part of a property is beyond use for a certain period.

You can apply using the discretionary relief application form:

3. Appealing your business rates or rateable value

Appeals against the business rates of your property can be made free of charge. Further information about the process can be found at the Valuation Office Agency:

For further information, read our business rates explanatory notes:

4. Retail discounts

The government is giving funding to local authorities so we can provide a 50% discount of up to £1,000 a year for certain retail properties with a rateable value of up to £50,000. This will provide support to businesses including, pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops.

The government is also giving funding to councils so they can provide a 50% discount for 18 months for businesses that move into retail premisies that have been empty for a year or more. This is available for businesses that move into empty premises between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.