Business rates reductions

Business rate reductions in response to the coronavirus pandemic

The government has announced changes to the expanded retail discount scheme in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it is having on businesses.

Expanded Retail Discount scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget announcement on 3 March 2021 said the government will continue to provide eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England with 100 per cent business rates relief for three months. This will take place from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021 and 66 per cent for the remainder of the year.

The Expanded Retail Discount will be automatically awarded to businesses that received the scheme last year by the council.

Business rates bills will be issued before June to show the 100 per cent business rates relief for three months from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021 and 66 per cent for the remainder of the year.

An alternative instalment arrangement will be provided to ratepayers which spreads the liability for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 over of the remaining nine months of the year.

For more information visit the GOV.UK expanded retail discount scheme page.

The government confirmed that there would be no cash cap on the relief received for the period from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.

From 1 July 2021, relief will be capped at £105,000 per business, or £2 million per business where the business is in occupation of a property that was required, or would have been required, to close, based on the law and guidance applicable on 5 January 2021. 

Please email the business rates team (businessrates@towerhamlets.gov.uk) if your business will be in breach of the cash cap from 1 July 2021. If you wish to refuse the discount for the full financial year, please email for each eligible hereditament anytime up to 30 April 2022 with your account reference in the subject header.

Local Restrictions Support Grants (LRSG), Closed Business Lockdown Payments (CBLP) and Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG)

Information on the different grants available to help businesses affected by the current lockdown and forced to close due to national coronavirus restrictions.

Apply for a grant

Watch out for scams

We have contacted by a number of businesses who may qualify for grants by email on 3 April 2020. But please be aware that there are a number of scam emails and messages being sent to businesses about claiming grants.

The council will always quote your business rate account number in any communication so you will always know that our messages are genuine.

Find out how to check if an email is a scam.


Business owners may be eligible for reductions in their business rates. The council provides advice on eligibility for rate reductions and will provide application forms and process applications for reductions.

Types of reductions

Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR)

Small business rates relief is awarded based on the rateable value of the property and the number of properties a business occupies.

You can apply for small business rates relief if you occupy one property in England and the rateable value of that property is below £15,000.

If you have more than one business property in England you can also apply providing each additional property's rateable value is below £2,900.

To apply please download and complete an application form for Small Business Rates Relief and the guidance notes to complete the application.

100 per cent discount can be awarded for properties with a rateable value of not more than £12,000. For properties with a rateable value from £12,001 - £14,999 a phased percentage discount is applied.

Spring Budget 2017 Relief Scheme: Supporting small businesses

Ratepayers losing Small Business or Rural Rate Relief as a result of the 2017 revaluation will have their increases limited to the greater of either

  • a cash value of £600 per year, or
  • the matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme.

This relief will run from financial years 2017-18 to 2021-22 and ratepayers will receive the relief until this date or they reach what their bill would have been within the relief scheme, whichever is first.

Charity relief

Charity organisations and registered community amateur sports clubs can apply for mandatory relief which may result in an 80 per cent reduction in the charge. Additional relief on the remaining bill can be awarded at the council's discretion.

Non-profit making organisations may be entitled to relief which is also at the discretion of the council. This discretionary power allows the council to grant relief for all or part of any non-domestic rate liability for property occupied by certain bodies not established or conducted for profit.

Awards will be made for a fixed period of 12 months or until the end of the current financial year (31 March) and may be extended for a further 12 month period (or the end of the current financial year) without the need for a review to take place.

Applications for charity relief can only be made by completing the online form and providing all requested information and documentation.  You will be notified whether or not your application was successful when a Non-Domestic Rate Demand is issued to you.

Apply for charity relief online

 

For further information please read the criteria and guidance that has been agreed by elected members and used by officers of the council to assist in the decision making process.

Transitional relief

The transitional relief scheme limits the amount that a bill can be increased or decreased following a revaluation (change to rateable value) which takes place every five years. The current list is the 2017 rating list. These adjustments will be shown in detail on the front of your bill if your property is eligible for transitional relief.

Unoccupied property relief

If a property is empty and unfurnished business rates will not be payable for the first three months. In the case of industrial properties this is extended to six months. After this the full rate becomes due and payable.

Empty properties with a rateable value less than £2,900 are exempt from empty property rate.

There are other empty property rate exemptions. Details are available from the Business Rates team

Partly occupied relief

Where a property is partly occupied the full rate remains payable in most cases. However where it is partly occupied for a short time the council has discretion in certain cases to award relief for the unoccupied part for up to three months (six months for industrial properties).

Our Revenues Inspector will need to view the premises at the time of the application to establish eligibility. We do not consider retrospective claims.

Hardship relief

A hardship claim can be submitted to the local authority who will consider each case on its individual circumstances and with regard to the interests of the council tax payers.

Retail discount

Since 2019/20 the government has provided a Business Rates Retail Discount for retail properties which for 2020/21 it expanded to include the leisure and hospitality sectors.

On 3 March 2021 the government confirmed that the Expanded Retail Discount would continue to apply in 2021/22 at 100 per cent for three months. From 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021, and at 66 per cent for the remaining period, from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022.

The government confirmed that there would be no cash cap on the relief received for the period from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.

From 1 July 2021, relief will be capped at £105,000 per business, or £2 million per business where the business is in occupation of a property that was required, or would have been required, to close, based on the law and guidance applicable on 5 January 2021.

Find out more on the GOV.UK expanded retail discount scheme page.

Please email the business rates team (businessrates@towerhamlets.gov.uk) if your business will be in breach of the cash cap from 1 July 2021. If you wish to refuse the discount for the full financial year, please email for each eligible hereditament anytime up to 30 April 2022 with your account reference in the subject header.

Nursery discount

As a temporary measure for 2021/22 the government have announced that the Nursery Discount 2021 would be extended for three months, at 100 per cent uncapped, for the period 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021.

From 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 the Nursery Discount would apply at 66 per cent relief for eligible properties, with a cash cap of £105,000.

Business rates bills will be issued by June 2021 to show the 100 per cent business rates relief for three months from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. Then 66 per cent for the remainder of the year to eligible nurseries in England.

An alternative instalment arrangement will be provided to ratepayers which spreads the liability for the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 over of the remaining nine months of the year.

Please email the business rates team (businessrates@towerhamlets.gov.uk) if your business will be in breach of the cash cap from 1 July 2021. If you wish to refuse the discount for the full financial year, please email for each eligible hereditament anytime up to 30 April 2022 with your account reference in the subject header.

State aid

In order to reduce the burden of individuals or organisations making individual applications for  Retail discount or Local Discretionary Relief Scheme (LDRS) 2017 the council has identified eligible ratepayers based on the design of the scheme and will automatically award the relief.

The award of the relief is classed as State Aid and the council must therefore comply with the European Commission State Aid legislation. The Council has diligently searched the list of recipients and to the best of its knowledge removed any organisations that it considers may exceed the State Aid threshold of €200,000 over the last 3 years (De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013).

Further information on State Aid law can be found at https://www.gov.uk/state-aid.

If your organisation has received an award of discretionary relief and the total amount will exceed the €200,000 limit over the last 3 years the you must notify the Council immediately so that a full determination can take place.

Further information

To find out if your property is eligible for any of the above contact the Business Rates team:

London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Revenue Services
Town Hall
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London
E14 2BG

Tel:  020 7364 5000
Email businessrates@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Please quote your rate account number in your email

Businesslink provides information on business rates and links to the VOA and ODPM web sites where you can get more detailed information.