Some relief for the High Street

  • Cobden Chambers, Nottingham 

From April 1, there is some relief for small retailers, pubs and restaurants who will share cuts in their business rate bills worth about £500m. Surveyor Andrew Smith sums up the new scheme

The new rating year sees the introduction of the Retail Discount scheme, a welcome relief (pardon the pun) for retailers hit by the heavy burden of business rates.

Announced by the Chancellor Philip Hammond during his Budget speech in October 2018, the new scheme applies to occupied small-sized High Street properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000. The Chancellor said he recognised small retailers were “struggling to cope” with high fixed costs including business rates.

The new scheme goes further than its predecessor, the Retail Relief scheme, by applying a one-third discount on the rates bills of qualifying properties for the next two years. The Chancellor said it was an average annual saving of £8,000 for 90% of independent businesses.

Retail properties which will benefit from the new scheme include shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes. The definition of shops will include those being used to provide services such as hair salons, dry cleaners and travel agents among others. 

The discount is awarded after all mandatory reliefs and other discretionary reliefs have been applied. Retailers who occupy more than one property will be entitled to the discount on all of their eligible properties, subject to De Minimis State Aid limits.