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Business ratepayers may be entitled to reliefs on their business rate bills. For England, the UK Government has set several mandatory reliefs that billing authorities (district and unitary councils) must give to eligible ratepayers. It is the billing authority’s responsibility to decide on whether a ratepayer is eligible for relief. Ratepayers can appeal against the billing authority’s decision. If the occupier of a property changes, the relief that is available in respect of the property may change too.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the devolved administrations set mandatory reliefs. In addition, the UK Government and the devolved administrations fund discretionary relief for certain types of property on a temporary basis.

This briefing paper summarises existing mandatory reliefs from business rates, and current and recent temporary relief schemes, in England. This includes reliefs available during the Covid-19 pandemic in financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22. The UK Government website provides a list of reliefs available in England, whilst the devolved administrations provide equivalent lists for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Billing authorities have also been responsible for the distribution of a number of the support grants made available to businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. The eligibility criteria for many of these grants related to the rateable value of a business’s property. As with reliefs, billing authorities have been responsible for deciding on businesses’ eligibility for these grants. This briefing paper provides details of the various grant schemes operating in England in 2020/21 and 2021/22. Similar schemes have operated in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

General information about the business rates system is available in the Library briefing paper Business rates.


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