Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

Coronavirus information on business rates support

Commercial businesses contribute to local services through paying business rates, also known as non-domestic rates.

  • Explanatory notes are no longer included in printed bills - follow the link to view the guidance online
  • Below are the questions the council is most often asked about business rates
  • For more information, contact the business rates team or use the useful links section below

The following multipliers will be used to calculate the non domestic rate amounts payable for 2020/21.

  • Small business multiplier - 49.9p (0.499)
  • Standard multiplier - 51.2p (0.512)


The standard multiplier will be used:

  • for all occupied property with a rateable value above  £51,000
  • for all empty property regardless of rateable value
  • if the ratepayer is entitled to a mandatory relief


All occupied properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will have their bill calculated using the lower multiplier.


2017/18 Revaluation

The Valuation Office Agency, part of HM Revenues and Customs, is responsible for the assessment of a property's rateable value, which is an assessment of the rent the property would attract if it were available to let on the open market at a fixed valuation date.


The 2017/18 rating list is effective from 1 April 2017, with rateable values based on a valuation date of 1 April 2015. Follow the link for more information on the revaluation.


Paying your bill

You can choose to pay your non domestic rate over 12 instalments from April to March. If you do not already do so and would like to, you will need to contact us. If you change to 12 monthly instalments during the year, we will give you the maximum number of instalments remaining in the current financial year.


Subsequent annual bills will be payable over the full 12 months.


Please note that there is a minimum instalment amount of £50 per month, or one instalment if your bill is £100 or less - if this applies to your bill, payment cannot be made over 12 months.


Transitional Relief

There may be a significant change to a rateable value following a revaluation, so there are transitional arrangements that help to phase in the effect of such changes. As a result, if there is a large increase, or large reduction in the rateable value, the change is restricted.


Transitional relief limits the percentage your bill can be increased or decreased each year following a revaluation; transitional relief will apply until the full amount is due.


Transitional relief will be calculated automatically, and displayed on your bill.

Rates are usually paid by the occupier of a business premises, often the owner or leaseholder. If the property is empty, it's still usually the owner or leaseholder who pays the rates. Rates are collected by Portsmouth City Council.

Payment methods for business rates are identical to payment methods for council tax - you will need the ratepayers reference number displayed on your bill to pay online, by direct debit, over the phone, by internet banking or in person.

Portsmouth City Council is responsible for calculating rates bills and for collecting the rates. We work out business rates bills by multiplying the rateable value of the property by the appropriate multiplier. The terms 'rateable values' and 'national multiplier' are explained below. allows you to calculate your own business rates

It is the rate in the pound by which the rateable value is multiplied to produce the annual rate bill for the property. There are two multipliers: standard and small business. The standard multiplier is set at a higher rate. The additional funds raised by the standard multiplier support small business rate relief (see question 'Do small businesses pay full business rates?').


The government agency, the Valuation Office, is responsible for setting multipliers according to formulae set by legislation.


Most years the multipliers change in line with inflation and to take account of the cost of small business rate relief. In the year of revaluation (see question 'What is a revaluation of business rateable values?') the multipliers are rebased to account for overall changes to total rateable value and to ensure that the revaluation does not raise extra money for Government.


The current multipliers are shown on the front of your bill.

The rateable value broadly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on a particular date - 1 April 2008 in respect of the 2010 rating list, and 1 April 2015 in respect of the 2017 rating list - on full repairing and Insuring terms.


Rateable values are usually revalued every five years.

Rateable values are generally reassessed every five years so that bills paid by any one ratepayer reflect changes over time in the value of their property relative to others. The current rating list is based on the 2017 revaluation, which set the date as 1 April 2015. The Valuation Office Agency has more information on the last revaluation in 2017.


If the rateable value of your property changes significantly as a result of revaluation, your rates will change gradually because the government limits how much your rates can increase or decrease each year. This is called transitional relief. If you are entitled to transitional relief, it will be shown on the front of your business rates bill.

A property's rateable value may be changed if:


  • any physical changes are made to your property, such as building or demolishing an extension
  • the property is in such poor condition that it cannot be economically repaired (in which case a reassessment may decide it should be taken out of the rating list or have its rateable value reduced to zero)
  • the ratepayer (and certain others who have an interest in the property) believes the rateable value is wrong

Rateable value appeals are free and will be assessed by the valuation officer, an employee of the Valuation Office Agency. If the ratepayer and the valuation officer do not agree, the matter will be referred to a valuation tribunal.


If you employ an adviser to help you make your appeal, make sure they have the necessary rating knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Choosing a rating adviser who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation means they are qualified and regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct.


You are required to continue paying your business rates at their current level while any appeal is in process.


For further information about the grounds on which appeals may be made and the process for doing so, in the first instance please contact the local valuation office

If you have any difficulty paying your business rates please contact us at Business (non-domestic) rates. 


The Government has put in place regulations to allow for the cancellation of certain backdated business rates liabilities.


If you don't pay your business rates we may take further action against you, which could result in a court summons. The actions we take for non-payment of business rates are broadly similar to those for non-payment of council tax - please follow the link for details of further action we may take (use of bailiffs, security for unpaid rates, insolvency or committal) if the amount summoned is not paid in full, with costs.

There are discounts or exemptions for:

  • empty or part-empty properties
  • small businesses
  • hardship relief
  • charities and sports clubs


Below is more information on each of these.

Business rates on empty properties are known as ' unoccupied property rates'. They are not payable in the first three months that a property is empty. In the case of certain industrial & warehouse properties this is extended to six months. After this period, rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the government by order. If your unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, this will be shown on the front of your bill.


Empty properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs are usually exempt from paying unoccupied property rates, and there are a number of other exemptions. Here are some other examples of situations where unoccupied property rates are not payable:

  • The rateable value of the empty property is less than £2,900
  • The owner is prohibited by law, by action taken by the Crown, or by any other local or public authority from occupying the premises
  • Subject to a building preservation notice per Section 58 of the Town & Country Planning Act (1971) or in a list under section 54 of the Act
  • The property is included in the schedule of monuments compiled under s.1 to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 
  • The owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person


If the following insolvency or debt administration situations exists:

  • A bankruptcy order in parts 8 to 11 of the Insolvency Act 1986
  • The owner is a trustee under a deed of arrangement to which the Deeds of Arrangement Act 1914 applies
  • The owner is a company subject to a winding up order made under the Insolvency Act 1986 , or is entitled to possession of the property in his capacity as liquidator under section 112 or section 145 of the Insolvency Act 1986.


For more information on business rate exemptions contact us at Business (non-domestic) rates.

A ratepayer is liable for full business rates whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, Portsmouth City Council has discretion in certain cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. For more information contact us at Business (non-domestic) rates.

Small businesses in the Portsmouth City Council area are defined as having rateable values of under £51,000 from 1 April 2017.


Small businesses don't pay full business rates because their rates are calculated using a reduced multiplier, rather than the standard one (see 'what is a multiplier?' above). Also small businesses with a sole or main property with a rateable value under £15,000 qualify for percentage relief on their business rates:


The table summarises the reductions for small businesses:  

Rateable value range  Relief

Up to £12,000

100% relief

£12,001 to £15,000

Business rates calculated using the reduced non-domestic multiplier and relief on a percentage sliding scale

£15,000 - £51,000

Business rates calculated using the reduced non-domestic multiplier only


Follow this link for more information from on small business rate relief (SBRR). If you think you should be receiving small business rate relief, contact us at Business (non-domestic) rates. If you meet the criteria you should automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period. Let us know if your circumstances change.

Portsmouth City Council can reduce the payment of business rates in certain circumstances. Each case presented is considered on its own merit.  Your case should include the number of people you employ and a business plan showing that an award would greatly assist your ability to continue trading. You should continue to pay your business rates while your case is progressing.


To apply for hardship relief on your business rates, contact us at Business (non-domestic) Rates.

If property is damaged in order to avoid paying rates, the valuation office will be required to disregard the change in the properties state when assessing its rateable value. For instance, if the roof is removed from an empty property for the purpose of avoiding rates, it may be valued as if the roof had not been removed and rates will still be payable.

Charities and registered community amateur sports clubs are entitled to 80% mandatory charity relief on business rates, which means paying no more than 20% per cent rates on any non-domestic property used for charitable or club purposes.


Portsmouth City Council can also grant relief to charities or non-profit making organisations on all or part of the remaining 20% of a business rate bill. This is at the council's discretion and applies for just one year. To apply complete the 'Discretionary rate relief application form' below.


For more information contact us at Business (non-domestic) rates.

A completion notice is a document that specifies the 'completion date' for newly built properties. It is the date on which the property becomes a dwelling for Council Tax purposes, and is the date it is entered into the national non-domestic rates list.


The completion notice is issued in accordance with Section 46 Schedule 4A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and Section 17 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 


Where a property is structurally complete, or where the work remaining can reasonably be expected to be completed within 3 months, a completion notice will be served on the 'owner' of the property. The 'owner' is defined as 'the person entitled to possession'.


Where work on a property is not yet completed, the completion notice can be served specifying the final completion day of up to three months from the date of service, for the remaining works for completion of the property to be carried out.

To ensure the accuracy of our completion notices, our property inspector will visit and review dwellings that are being built or altered. Evidence, such as photographs can be obtained to enable us make the right decision.


The council will consider a property to have reached a stage of substantial completion when it meets the following criteria:

  • The basic structure is complete, for example all external walls and roof in place
  • Internal walls are built (although not necessarily plastered)
  • Floors laid (although the screed or top coat of concrete need not have been laid)


Many properties will have reached an advanced level of completion where, for example, ceilings are in place, walls have been plastered and second fixing may have commenced.

In these circumstances the amount of time allowed in the notice for full completion of the property may be quite short.

In order to be considered and ready for banding, the following work does not need to have been carried out:

  • Internal decoration of the property, including the fitting of internal doors
  • Final fitting of bathroom and kitchen units
  • Final fitting of electrical fixtures, plug points and switches
  • Final connection of water, gas and electricity (although services should be laid out on to the site)

The criteria for determining completion for Council Tax purposes are substantially different to that for determining completion for Building Control; therefore, whether building control certificates have been issued, or not is not directly relevant.


A completion notice may be served up to three months in advance of the day on which the council specifies that a property is complete; therefore, whilst at the date when the notice is sent the property may well not be complete, the important date to bear in mind is the date that the council is specifying as the date of completion.

If the property is complete, the council will serve a completion notice on the owner as soon as is reasonably practicable. A completion notice cannot be backdated, even if the property has been completed for some time.


New properties, whether newly constructed or created by conversion, which are unoccupied and substantially unfurnished will be subject to a full charge when it is brought onto the Council Tax list or non-domestic rating list.

A new or altered dwelling does not require a completion notice once the property becomes occupied.  The date used to enter onto the Council Tax list or non-domestic rating list will be the date of occupation.

A new or altered dwelling does not require a completion notice once the property becomes occupied.  The date used to enter onto the Council Tax list or non-domestic rating list will be the date of occupation.


For further advice please contact


This information is a general guidance and is not a substitute for the relevant statutes and regulations.