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Cambridge City Council

Business rate relief and exemptions

If you pay business rates, you might be eligible for rate relief.

Check the government’s financial support for businesses during coronavirus to find out what help you are eligible to receive and how to apply.

Relief for small businesses

To qualify for a reduced business rate, your business must occupy either:

  • a single property with a rateable value of less than £15,000
  • a main property with additional properties, where the additional properties have a rateable value of less than £2,900 each, and the total rateable value of all properties together is less than £20,000

If your business meets either of these criteria, your business rates bill will be calculated using a lower uniform business rate (UBR) multiplier.


Additional relief

In addition to having your bill calculated using the lower multiplier, a further reduction is available if the rateable value of the single or main property is less than £15,000.

A percentage rate reduction is available on a sliding scale for properties with a rateable value between £12,000 and £14,999, and a straight reduction of 100% is available for properties with a rateable value below £12,000.

Unless your circumstances change, your rates relief will last until the next revaluation of your property in 2021.

Extended retail rate relief for 2022/23

The government announced in the October 2021 Budget that eligible ratepayers will receive a discount of 50% on their business rates bills for the year 2022/23, up to a maximum of £110,000. 

Relief will be provided until 31 March 2023 to ratepayers occupying eligible occupied retail, hospitality and leisure properties.

Eligibility for the relief will be assessed and calculated on a daily basis. Any adjustment to your rate liability, such as vacating the property or changes to the rateable value, will mean the amount of relief awarded will also be adjusted.

This relief will only apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties (subject to eligibility criteria) in 2022/23. It ends on 31 March 2023.

How the relief will be applied

We have already taken steps to identify qualifying properties in Cambridge to speed up the award of the new relief. In most cases relief will be awarded on the basis of you being eligible for retail relief in 2021/22.

If relief has already been awarded, it will show on your bill. You do not need to take any further action unless you believe you are not eligible to receive the relief or you want to decline it.

Contact us if your property is not currently used for a purpose listed within the expanded scheme, or if its use changes.

Contact us if relief is not shown on your bill and you believe you are eligible.

Do not apply if the award will exceed the cash cap of £110,000 for all properties.

Cash cap from 1 April 2022

In line with the conditions set by the government, you can only claim up to £110,000 of support under the 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme for all of your eligible hereditaments.

This cash cap applies at a group company level – holding companies and subsidiaries cannot claim up to the cash cap for each company. It also applies to organisations that, although not a company, have such an interest in a company that they would, if they were a company, result in its being the holding company.

The relief scheme is subject to the subsidies chapter in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The chapter only applies to subsidies over the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit of approximately £343,000 per beneficiary over a three-year period, including the current financial year. Extended retail discounts granted in 2020/21 or 2021/22 do not count towards the limit. Covid business grants received from local government and any other subsidy claimed under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit over the three-year period should be counted.

[highlight] To claim the relief you must not have exceeded either the £110,000 cash cap for 2022/23 or the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit of £343,000 over 3 years (including 2022/23).

You do not need to take any further action if you have not received any other 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief for premises other than the one in Cambridge, if the relief is not greater than £110,000 and you have not received more than the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance of £343,000 over three years (including 2022/23).

You must tell us if you (or a company in your group) have received support from the 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme on any other property but to a level below the £110,000 cash cap and you (or a company in your group) have not received more than the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit of £343,000 over three years (including 2022/23).

If you have exceeded the cash cap on other properties, or you have received more than the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit of £343,000 over three years (including 2022/23), you are not eligible for relief. If it has already been awarded you must tell us.

We and the government will not tolerate any business falsifying their records or providing false evidence to gain this discount, including claiming support above the cash cap or the exemption threshold. Ratepayers who falsely apply for any relief or provide false information or make false representation to gain relief might be guilty of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006. Any sums of retail relief that are incorrectly claimed must be repaid to us immediately.

Relief for empty and partly-occupied properties

Empty properties

If a property is empty and unused, you do not have to pay business rates for the first three months from the date the property was first unoccupied. This is extended to six months for certain industrial properties.

After this period, rates are payable at the standard rate, as if the building was occupied.

Some exemptions do apply - such as listed buildings, small properties with rateable values of less than £2,900, or where occupation has been restricted by law.

Owners of these properties do not have to pay business rates for as long as the property remains empty.

Partly-occupied properties

If a property is partly-occupied for a short period of time, we have the discretion to give business rate relief on the part of the property that is unoccupied.

For example, this could apply if your business is moving into or out of a property in stages.

If discretionary relief is granted, the rateable value will be recalculated, and, if applicable, empty-property rates will be payable on the unoccupied part and full rates will be payable on the occupied part of the property.

Apply for your empty or partly-occupied property

Contact us with the following information:

  • the address of the property
  • the name of the current owner or leaseholder
  • the date it was or will be empty or partly-occupied

Applications for partly-occupied properties also need:

  • a plan of the property which identifies the unoccupied area
  • reasons for the application

Relief for charity and amateur sports clubs

Charity and registered amateur sports clubs can apply for charitable relief, which can reduce the bill by 80 per cent. This is called mandatory rate relief.

We have discretion to remit all or part of the remaining 20 per cent – this is called discretionary rate relief.

Relief for local newspapers

A discount worth up to £1,500 a year is available in respect of office space occupied by local newspapers.

This is up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits.

The relief will be delivered through local authority discretionary discount powers (under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988).

The eligibility criteria for this relief are set out in the government's guidance note: The case for business rates relief for local newspapers.


Following the UK withdrawal from the European Union, the Brexit transition period has ended and new rules on subsidy control now apply. Subsidies have replaced state aid.

A subsidy:

  • is given by a public authority. This can be at any level – central, devolved, regional or local government or a public body.
  • makes a contribution (this could be a financial or an in kind contribution) to an enterprise, conferring an economic advantage that is not available on market terms. Examples of a contribution are grants, loans at below market rate, or a loan guarantee at below market rate or allowing a company to use publicly owned office space rent free. An enterprise is anyone who puts goods or services on a market. An enterprise could be a government department or a charity if they are acting commercially.
  • affects international trade. This can be trade with any World Trade Organisation member or, more specifically, between the UK and a country with whom it has a Free Trade Agreement. For example, if the subsidy is going towards a good which is traded between the UK and the EU this could affect trade between the EU and the UK. Please note that you are not being asked whether the subsidy could harm trade but merely whether there could be some sort of effect. Subsidies to very local companies or a small tourist attraction are unlikely to be caught as this is unlikely to affect international trade.

 To find out more, read the government’s guidance about complying with the UK’s international obligations on subsidy control.

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