The government had announced that the existing one-third retail discount scheme would increase to 50% for 2020/21 and extend to include cinemas and music venues, where the rateable value is less than £51,000.
At Budget 2020, to support small businesses affected by COVID-19, it was announced that government would increase the scheme further to 100%, and be extended to include the hospitality and leisure sector.
On 17 March 2020, it was announced that the existing retail discount scheme would be extended to 100% and include all properties regardless of the rateable value.
On 25 March 2020, it was announced that estate agents, lettings agencies, employment agencies and bingo halls that have closed as a result of COVID-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will now be exempted from business rates in 2020-21. Eligible businesses will be re-billed and the new bill will be given the discount of 100%.
Eligible ratepayers will be:
- shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, estate agents, lettings agencies, employment agencies, betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, cinemas and live music venues;
- for assembly and leisure; or
- hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.
Premises which should not receive relief:
- Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers),
- Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors),
- Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors),
- Post office sorting offices,
In line with the legal restrictions in section 47(8A) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, billing authorities may not grant the discount to themselves, a precepting authority, or a functional body, within the meaning of the Greater London Authority Act 1999
Current status: The annual bills issued to eligible retailers are now incorrect. Affected business rates accounts will be reassessed and bills reissued as soon as we are able to. Direct debits will be cancelled.
Government guidance on the expanded retail scheme (issued 18/03/20)