Business Rates - Retail Discount Scheme (Ending 31 March 2022)

Properties that will benefit from the retail discount will be occupied hereditaments with a rateable value of less than £51,000, that are wholly or mainly being used as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments.

From 1st April 2020 the scheme has been extended to include cinemas and music venues.

It is considered that businesses eligible for retail discount are: 

Properties that are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public:

  • Shops (such as: florist, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licence, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets, etc)
  • Charity shops
  • Opticians
  • Post offices
  • Furnishing shops / display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
  • Car / caravan show rooms
  • Second hard car lots
  • Markets
  • Petrol stations
  • Garden centres
  • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)

Properties that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:

  • Hair and beauty services (such as: hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc)
  • Shoe repairs / key cutting
  • Travel agents
  • Ticket offices e.g. for theatre
  • Dry cleaners
  • Launderettes
  • PC / TV / domestic appliance repair
  • Funeral directors
  • Photo processing
  • Tool hire
  • Car hire
  • Care Repair Business
  • Cinemas (from 1st April 2020)

Properties that are being used for the sale of food and/ or drink to visiting members of the public:

  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Coffee shops
  • Pubs
  • Bars

To qualify for the retail discount the property must be wholly or mainly being used as a shop, restaurant, cafe or drinking establishment. This is a test on use rather than occupation; therefore, an office building that contains a small coffee shop that is not rated separately would not qualify for relief.

From 1st April 2020 - Properties that are being used as live music venues

Live music venues are properties wholly or mainly used for the performance of live music for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Properties cannot be considered a live music venue for the purpose of business rates relief where a venue is wholly or mainly used as a nightclub or a theatre, for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).


Properties not eligible for retail discount:

  • Rateable value of £51,000 or more
  • Properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public
  • Properties that are not considered to be wholly or mainly for retail use.

The list below sets out some uses that are NOT considered to be retail use for the purpose of this discount:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureau de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
  • Other services (e.g. estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies)
  • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents / financial advisers, tutors)
  • Post office sorting office
  • Properties used for sport or physical recreation
  • Theatres, museums and nightclubs (prior to 1st April 2020 cinemas and music venues not considered eligible for relief)

How much relief will be available?

The total amount of government-funded discount available for each property for 2019/20 under this scheme is one third of the demand and for 2020/21 fifty percent of the demand after mandatory reliefs and other discretionary reliefs have been applied.  Where an authority applies a locally funded relief this must be applied after the Retail Discount. There is no relief available under this scheme for properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or more.

Ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties, subject to State Aid De Minimis limits.


State Aid

The Government will fund local authorities to provide this discount in the prescribed circumstances, up to State Aid de Minimis limits.

State Aid law is the means by which the European Union regulates state funded support to businesses. Providing discretionary retail discount to ratepayers is likely to amount to State Aid. However, the Retail Discount Scheme will be State Aid compliant where it is provided in accordance with the De Minimis Regulations (1407/2013)7.

The De Minimis Regulations allow an undertaking to receive up to €200,000 of De Minimis aid in a rolling three year period (consisting of the current financial year and the two previous financial years).

Further guidance on state aid can be found in the 'related links' section of this page.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU, if there is an Implementation Period, the State Aid rules will continue to apply as now and will be subject to control by the EU Commission as at present. If the UK leaves the EU without a negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, the Government has announced its intention to transpose EU State Aid rules into UK domestic legislation, with only technical modifications to correct deficiencies with the transposed EU law to ensure the regime operates effectively in a domestic context. Therefore, State Aid rules continue to apply to the relief for 2019/20 and 2020/21.

If you wish to refuse the Retail Discount granted in relation to the premises to which this discount relates as it would be in breach of state aid rules, please complete the State Aid Received Declaration form in the 'Do it online' section of this page. This may be particularly relevant to those premises that are part of a large retail chain, where the cumulative total of Retail Discount received could exceed €200,000.

If you wish to refuse the relief as you do not consider the use of the property falls within the prescribed criteria please contact the Business Rates team on 0151 934 4360 or by email

Further guidance on retail discount can be found in the 'related links' section of this page.

Last Updated on Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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