Reliefs and exemptions


The Council has the discretion to award relief to charities and other non-profit making organisations.

A non-profit organisation is an organisation that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends.

Charitable organisations, charity shops and registered community amateur sports clubs (CASC’s) already receiving 80% Mandatory relief can apply for further discretionary rate relief on the remaining 20% of the business rates charge.

It is important to note that the Council decides whether relief should be awarded on the circumstances of each application. There is no automatic right to receive relief.

Further information and details on how to make an application can be found on the discretionary rate relief page of this website.

The Government has made available £300million to local authorities over four years from 2017-2018 to provide discretionary rate relief to those ratepayers facing significant increases in their bills as a result of the 2017 revaluation undertaken by the independent Valuation Office Agency.

The Revaluation Relief Scheme is effective from 1 April 2017 and will be provided over 4 years but is cash limited based on funding from central Government. Sefton’s allocation of the Government funding for discretionary rate relief is to be £945,838 spread across the next 4 years.

The Council’s scheme for 2017-2018 is targeted at those ratepayers in properties with a rateable value of less than £200,000 who are facing a significant increase in their rates bills as a result of revaluation.

The Council’s Scheme for 2018-19 has yet to be agreed. However, it is anticipated that relief will again be targeted at those ratepayers in lower value properties facing a significant increase in their rates bills as a result of revaluation. Due to the reduced amount of Central Government grant available in Year 2, and State Aid limitations,  not all  businesses qualifying for the relief in 2017 -18 may be eligible under the 2018-19 scheme.

Some 2018- 19 bills have already been issued with a revaluation relief award carried forward from the 2017-18 scheme. This award has been made in error and will be corrected in due course. All account holders affected will be contacted directly regarding this issue. The Council apologises for any inconvenience caused by this error.   

The assistance will only be provided in relation to Business Rates liability net of other Business Rates reliefs which may apply.

Ratepayers who are identified as eligible for relief will either be awarded relief automatically or be contacted by the Council to invite them to make an online application.

When a property becomes vacant it is exempt from business rates for three months except certain industrial properties which are exempt for six months. At the end of the rate-free period, rates are payable at 100% charge. Empty rate continues to be payable until somebody occupies the property.

It is important to note that the rate-free period applies to the property only. Therefore, if you purchase an empty property you will be immediately liable for empty rates if it has been vacant for more than the rate free period prior to you buying it.

Further information can be found on the empty property rate relief page of this website.

In very exceptional circumstances the Council can use its discretion to award a reduction in your business rates demand on the grounds of hardship. It is important to note that when deciding whether to award relief, the Council takes many factors into account. It is not sufficient that your business is not profitable.

Further information can be found on the hardship relief page of this website.

Charities or trustees of a charity are entitled to an 80% reduction in their business rates if the property they occupy is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.

An organisation that is not registered as a charity may also claim this relief provided it has similar charitable aims.

Further information can be found on the mandatory charity relief page of this website.

If your property is only partly occupied, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) may be able to value the occupied and unoccupied parts of the property separately. The unoccupied part would then be eligible for empty property rate relief.

If the VOA is unable to value the parts separately and the property is to remain partly occupied for a short period of time only, you may be eligible to claim section 44a part occupied relief. 

Further information can be found on the part occupied relief page of this website.

Certain types of properties in a rural settlement with a population below 3,000 may be entitled to relief. The property must be the only general store, the only post office or a food shop and have a rateable value of less than £8,500, or the only public house or the only petrol station and have a rateable value of less than £12,500. The property has to be occupied.

From 1st April 2017 an eligible ratepayer is entitled to relief at 100% (previously 50%) of the full charge

Further information can be found on the rural rate relief page of this website.

The Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) scheme is designed to help small businesses reduce their Business Rate demand.

From 1st April 2017 ratepayers who are not entitled to another mandatory relief and who occupy a single property with a rateable value of up to £15,000 are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief. In certain circumstances ratepayers who occupy more than one property may also be eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, although relief will only be applied to the main property.

Businesses which received small business rates relief in 20016/2017 and continue to meet the conditions which apply at the time of the 2017 revaluation will continue to receive small business rates relief automatically. The requirement to notify their billing authority if they are no longer eligible for relief will continue to apply.

The relief does not apply to empty properties.

Further information can be found on the small business rate relief page of this website.

The Supporting Small Business Rate Relief scheme is designed to help small businesses facing an increase in their rate bills following the 2017 revaluation.

Further information can be found on the supporting small business rate relief page on this website.

From 1 April 2017 the Government is providing funding to local authorities so that they can provide a discount worth £1,500 in year 2017/18 and 2018/19 for office space occupied by local newspapers This is up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits.

The relief is to be specifically for local newspapers, what would be considered to be a “traditional local newspaper.” The relief will not be available to magazines.

To qualify the property must be occupied by a local newspaper and wholly or mainly used as office premises for journalists and reporters.

The amount of relief is limited to a maximum of one discount per newspaper title and per property.

Please contact the business rates team on 0151 934 4360 or by email  if you wish to make an application.

The award of this discount is considered to amount to state aid. However, it will be state aid compliant where it is provided in accordance with the De Minimus Regulations EC 1407/2013. The De Minimus Regulations allow an undertaking to receive up to €200,000 'de minimus' aid over a rolling three year period. As part of the application process ratepayers are required to complete and return a state aid declaration confirming whether they have received any other De Minimis State Aid and to confirm that the award of the relief for local newspapers would not cause the ratepayer to exceed the €200,000 of state aid an undertaking can receive under the De Minimis Regulations. Further information on state aid can be found on the related links area of this page.

At the Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced a new relief scheme for pubs that have a rateable value of below £100,000. Under the scheme, eligible pubs will receive a £1000 discount for one year from 1 April 2017.

In the Autumn Budget 2017 the Chancellor announced that the pubs relief scheme would be extended by a further year and will have effect in 2018/2019. The existing guidance and terms for the current scheme will continue to apply.

Further information can be found on the relief for pubs page of this website.

Relief from Business Rates
Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 as amended by Section 69 of the Localism Act 2011 gives the Council a general power having given consideration to the interest of local Council Taxpayers, to award rate relief to any ratepayer. Each case is considered on its own merits and the Council will consider the implications for the economic gain to the Council over the medium term, including business rate income, social value arising from creation of employment and community gain.

Changes in Circumstances
It is important that you tell us about any change in your circumstances that affects your liability to pay rates. This would include:

  • A change of address to which your mail is to be sent
  • Changes in the leaseholder/owner of a property
  • Change in the occupier of the property
  • If you vacate the property
  • Any change that may affect your entitlement to any rate relief granted
  • Any change of use to the property, e.g shop to wine bar

Contact us on 0151 934 4360. If you fail to tell us about such changes, it may result in you being overcharged rates or being sent a large retrospective demand.

Last Updated on 16 October 2017