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

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Coronavirus business rates relief

The government has announced retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will not need to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. We will be applying this automatically to businesses in Lambeth, you do not need to apply. A grant scheme has also been announced and we are awaiting further guidance from central government on how local authorities will administer this. At the moment we know that:

  • A £25,000 grant will be provided to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000.
  • A £10,000 grant will be provided to businesses currently eligible for Small business rate relief (SBBR) to help meet their ongoing business costs.

We are awaiting further guidance from the government. We expect that eligible businesses currently in receipt of Retail Rate Relief will not need to apply for the £10k grant and that we will be providing these automatically. We are still awaiting information on the eligibility criteria for the £25k grants.

Amended bills detailing the 100% Retail Rate Relief increased from 50% will be issued on Friday 20th March.

Find more information and support for businesses affected by coronavirus.

2. Unoccupied property rating

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

Certain Industrial properties are empty exempt for up to six months, when full rates then become payable. Listed buildings and small properties with rateable values of less than £2,900, pay no empty property rates even after the first three months have expired.

3. 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.

Please read the Discretionary business rates hardship scheme before applying.

You can apply using the discretionary relief application form:

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 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016.

The 18 month period includes the initial three or six month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for up to an extra 12 or 15 months.

4. Appealing your business rates or rateable value

Check, challenge and appeal

You can find and review your rateable value on the Valuation Office Agency's website.

If you think that your 2017 rateable value is not correct, follow the instructions provided on the site. You will need to do the following:

  • Check – review and confirm the facts about your property held by the VOA
  • Challenge – once the facts are established, explain why you believe your valuation is wrong.

The VOA will change your rateable value if they agree it’s wrong. If they don't agree and you have grounds to appeal, you can make an appeal to them. You must continue to pay your rates bill during the appeal.

Information supplied with demand notices

You can read about our gross expenditure online or request a hard copy by calling us on 020 8315 2255 or emailing .

5. Small business rate relief

From 1 April 2017 you won’t pay business rates on a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

The small business rate relief will be available to you if you have a property with a rateable value between £12,001 and £15,000. The rate of relief will go down gradually from 100 per cent to zero per cent.

If you use more than one property you’ll keep getting any existing relief on your main property for 12 months.

You can still get small business rate relief on your main property after this if both the following apply:

  • none of your other properties have a rateable value above £2,900
  • the total rateable value of all your properties is less than £28,000

You do not need to apply for small business rate relief, we will automatically apply it to your business if you meet the criteria.

Provided you continue to satisfy the conditions for the relief which apply at the time about the property and the ratepayer, you will continue to receive relief in each new valuation period.

If you're not receiving the relief and you think you should, please contact us on 020 8315 2255 or email

If you’re receiving the relief, you must notify us if certain changes in circumstances occur.

These changes are:

  • taking up occupation of an additional property
  • an increase in the rateable value of a property you occupy in an area outside of Lambeth.

You’re a small business but don’t qualify for small business rate relief

You’ll pay the small business multiplier if your property has a rateable value below £51,000. The small business multiplier will be 0.491p and the standard multiplier will be 0.504p.

6. 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 following are not eligible for this relief:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
  • Other services (e.g. estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies)
  • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors)
  • Post office sorting offices
  • Businesses that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public
  • Cinemas, theatres and museums
  • Nightclubs and music venues
  • Properties used for physical recreation e.g. gyms

View the Government-issued guidance on the operation of the business rates retail discount scheme.

If you feel you may be entitled to this relief, please complete and return the application form to

7. Living Wage employer business rates rebate