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Business rates holiday and cash grants for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses - coronavirus

25 March 2020: there is a business rates holiday for the 2020/21 tax year, as well as and cash grants, for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

OFFICIAL GUIDANCE: Business Rates: Expanded Retail Discount 

Key features of the scheme

This page was updated on 6 April to reflect the latest government information.

  • Two reliefs are available for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors:
    • 100% relief from business rates for the 2020/2021 tax year. This applies to all businesses in these sectors in England and Scotland. In Wales relief is given to businesses with rateable value below £500,000. This scheme does not operate in Northern Ireland – instead all businesses will pay zero rates for April, May and June 2020.
    • Cash grants of £25,000. These will be given to businesses in these sectors with rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 (in England). Small businesses with a rateable value below £15,000 (in England) will receive a cash grant of £10,000. These grants are also paid in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, although different thresholds apply.
  • The reliefs will be administered by local authorities. Cash grants will be paid automatically. In Scotland, businesses will need to apply.
  • Businesses will receive a bill showing no business rates charge for the 2020/2021 tax year. Those who had already received bills for the 2020/2021 tax year will be rebilled.

Eligibility and additional features

  • To be eligible for these schemes, businesses must be in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. That means they must be ‘wholly or mainly being used’:
    • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues,
    • for assembly and leisure; or
    • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
  • Each individual "hereditament" is eligible for the holiday and cash grant. Businesses with multiple premises will qualify for each of their hereditaments that meets the above criteria.
  • Decisions about granting reliefs will be taken by local authorities, following government guidance.
  • In many cases it will be obvious that a business qualifies. However, for certain types of business careful consideration of the criteria is necessary. Some businesses are expressly excluded from the reliefs. The detailed criteria for England are set out in government guidance on the expanded retail discount.
  • Eligibility is based on rateable values recorded on the rating list at 11 March 2020. Subsequent changes to the rating list will be disregarded. However, where it was "factually clear" that the rating list was "inaccurate" then local authorities have the discretion to award (or withhold) the holiday/cash grant. It is not clear how inaccuracies are expected to be evidenced, but it seems this is intended to be limited to "manifest errors of fact rather than matters of valuation judgment. Decisions will be taken at the discretion of the local authority. Complaints should be directed to the local authority and can be appealed to the local government ombudsman (or its equivalent elsewhere in the UK) where there is a dispute.
  • Premises that are occupied but not wholly or mainly used for the purposes above will not qualify for the relief. Business rates are assessed on a daily basis, so it is possible that the use of the premises changes during the tax year. For the purposes of this relief it is current use that is relevant, not what the premises might previously been used for or its planning status.
  • Premises occupied for "personal use" will not qualify. Beach huts, moorings and private stables are given as examples. Car parks and parking spaces do not qualify. Decisions about personal use will be taken by local authorities.
  • Premises which have closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19 will be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief.
  • Cash grants will be sent to the person named as the ratepayer in the local authority’s records on 11 March 2020. Landlords and managing agents are encouraged to help identify the ratepayer for properties they manage. Funds received by third parties can be recovered if that person was not the ratepayer on 11 March 2020.
  • Business rates are a devolved tax and different rules can apply in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The eligibility criteria above are based on the guidance for England and may apply differently elsewhere in the UK. However, all UK administrations are offering a payment holiday for the 2020/2021 tax year for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses. Different thresholds apply for the cash grant schemes:

      £10,000 cash grant
    Rateable value/ net annual value 
    £25,000 cash grant for retail, leisure & hospitality 
    England  £0 - £15,000  £15,001 - £51,000 
    Wales  £0 - £12,000 £12,001 - £51,000 
    Northern Ireland  £0 - £14,999  £15,000 - £51,000 
    Scotland  £0 - £18,000 £18,001 - £51,000 
  • In Scotland all non-domestic rate payers will get 1.6% rates relief for the 2020/2021 tax year. This will be applied automatically to bills. In Northern Ireland, all businesses will pay zero rates for April, May and June 2020. This applies automatically and does not need to be repaid.

Additional information

  • Businesses should contact their local authority with any questions they may have about the scheme.
  • Government guidance on the grant schemes is available here.