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Retail relief

The Chancellor has announced several changes to business rates in the Budget of 11 March 2020. Please visit our Budget - March 2020 page for details of how you may be affected. 

The Government has announced a new relief scheme for retail properties that have a rateable value of below £51,000. Initially, eligible ratepayers received a one third discount of their daily chargeable amount. The Government have now advised of their intention to update current legislation to extend this relief for the financial year 2020/21, increasing the amount of relief to 100% of the daily Business Rates charge for eligible properties.

The Government has provided the following guidance to councils:

Which properties will benefit from relief? 

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied and have a rateable value of less than £51,000, that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments. Properties which are occupied but not wholly or mainly used for this purpose will not qualify for the relief. 

For the purpose of this relief, we consider shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments to mean: 

i. Properties that are being used to sell goods to visiting members of the public: 

− Shops (such as: florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets, etc) 
− Charity shops 
− Opticians 
− Post offices 
− Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors) 
− Car/ caravan show rooms (Including second hand car lots)
− Markets 
− Petrol stations 
− Garden centres 
− Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire) 

Effective from 1 April 2020, the list of establishments that qualify for relief has been extended to include:

- Cinemas

- Music venues


ii. Properties that are being used to provide the following services to visiting members of the public: 

− Hair and beauty services (such as: hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc) 
− Shoe repairs/ key cutting 
− Travel agents 
− Ticket offices e.g. for theatre 
− Dry cleaners and laundrettes
− PC/ TV/ domestic appliance repair 
− Funeral directors 
− Photo processing 
− Tool hire 
− Car hire 

iii. Properties that are being used to sell food and/ or drink to visiting members of the public: 

− Restaurants 
− Takeaways 
− Sandwich shops 
− Coffee shops 
− Pubs 

Which properties will not qualify for relief? 

The list below sets out the types of uses that the Government does not consider to be retail use for the purpose of this relief. 

i. Properties that are being used to provide the following services to visiting members of the public: 

− 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 advisors, tutors) 
− Post office sorting offices 

ii. Properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public 

Generally speaking, the government also does not consider other assembly or leisure uses to be retail uses for the purpose of the discount. For example, cinemas, theatres and museums are outside the scope of the scheme as are properties used for sport or physical recreation (e.g. gyms)’ 

State Aid

Retail relief needs to comply with the European Union law on state aid. To qualify for this relief, your business should not receive more than €200,000 of state aid in a three year period (the current and previous two financial years).  The €200,000 threshold is likely to affect premises that are part of a large chain.

Application of Retail Relief

Sandwell Business Rates team will identify the premises which qualify for the Retail Discount and award any relief automatically. New bills for 2020/21 will show this relief. If you believe you should qualify, but the reduction is not showing on your 2020/21 Business Rates bill, you will need to apply for Retail Relief.

If you are awarded Retail Relief against your 2019/20 or 2020/21 Business Rates bill, but qualify for State Aid and so are not eligible for that Retail Relief, you must ask us to remove the Retail Relief.