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Business Rates - Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Relief Scheme

The Government has provided Councils with guidance to provide a discretionary relief scheme for businesses with effect from 1 April 2023 The Council has determined that in accordance with that guidance businesses may qualify for a discount in the following categories:

  • shop
  • restaurant, café, bar, or pub
  • cinema or music venue
  • hospitality or leisure business - for example, a gym, a spa, a casino, or a hotel

Full details of eligibility can be found below in the section entitled ‘Eligibility for Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Relief’ at the foot of this page.

If you are eligible, you could get 75% off your business rates bill for the 2023-24 tax year (1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024) and 2024-25 tax year (1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025).

Businesses will not be required to apply for the relief as it will be applied automatically. However, if having read the guidance below you think your business is eligible but it has not been included on your bill, you can request you be considered for relief by e-mailing the business rates team at business.rates@sefton.gov.uk

The Retail, Hospitality & Leisure Relief Scheme will end on 31 March 2025

 

Cash Caps

There will be a cap on the cash value of relief that a business can receive. Businesses will be eligible to receive relief on more than one property. However, the total cash value of that relief must not exceed £110,000 across all of their properties in England.

Where a business has a qualifying connection with another business, then those businesses will be considered as one business ratepayer for the purposes of the cash caps.

A business shall be treated as having a qualifying connection with another where both ratepayers are companies, and

  • one is a subsidiary of the other, or
  • both are subsidiaries of the same company; or
  • where only business is a company, the other business (the “second ratepayer”) has such an interest in that company as would, if the second ratepayer were a company, result in its being the holding company of the other.

In those cases where it is clear to the Council that the ratepayer is likely to breach the cash caps, then the Council will automatically withhold the discount. In other cases, the Council will include the discount in bills and ask the ratepayers, on a self-assessment basis, to inform the authority if they are in breach of the cash caps.

 

Opt out 

Business will have the option to refuse the relief for 2024/25 anytime up to 30 April 2025. When a business has chosen to opt out of the relief that decision may not be withdrawn at a later date.

 

Eligibility guidance for Ratepayers

Eligibility for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme

1. Hereditaments that meet the eligibility for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure scheme will be occupied hereditaments which meet all of the following conditions for the chargeable day:

a. they are wholly or mainly being used:

i. as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, or live music venues
ii. for assembly and leisure; or
iii. as hotels, guest & boarding premises, or self-catering accommodation

2. We consider shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, and live music venues to mean:

i. Hereditaments that are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public:

      • Shops (such as: florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, 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-hand car lots
      • Markets
      • Petrol stations
      • Garden centres
      • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)

ii. Hereditaments 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

iii. Hereditaments 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

iv. Hereditaments which are being used as cinemas

v. Hereditaments that are being used as live music venues:

      • Live music venues are hereditaments wholly or mainly used for the performance of live music for the purpose of entertaining an audience. Hereditaments 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).
      • Hereditaments can be a live music venue even if used for other activities, but only if those other activities (i) are merely ancillary or incidental to the performance of live music (e.g., the sale/supply of alcohol to audience members) or (ii) do not affect the fact that the primary activity for the premises is the performance of live music (e.g., because those other activities are insufficiently regular or frequent, such as a polling station or a fortnightly community event).
      • There may be circumstances in which it is difficult to tell whether an activity is a performance of live music or, instead, the playing of recorded music. Although we would expect this would be clear in most circumstances, guidance on this may be found in Chapter 16 of the statutory guidanceissued in April 2018 under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003.

3. We consider assembly and leisure to mean:

i. Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of sport, leisure, and facilities to visiting members of the public (including for the viewing of such activities):

      • Sports grounds and clubs
      • Museums and art galleries
      • Nightclubs
      • Sport and leisure facilities
      • Stately homes and historic houses
      • Theatres
      • Tourist attractions
      • Gyms
      • Wellness centres, spas, massage parlours
      • Casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls

ii. Hereditaments that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public:

      • Public halls
      • Clubhouses, clubs, and institutions

4. We consider hotels, guest & boarding premises, and self-catering accommodation to mean:

i. Hereditaments where the non-domestic part is being used for the provision of living accommodation as a business:

      • Hotels, guest and boarding houses
      • Holiday homes
      • Caravan parks and sites

5. To qualify for the relief the hereditament should be wholly or mainly being used for the above qualifying purposes. In a similar way to other reliefs (such as charity relief), this is a test on use rather than occupation. Therefore, hereditaments which are occupied but not wholly or mainly used for the qualifying purpose will not qualify for the relief.

6. The list set out above is not intended to be exhaustive as it would be impossible to list the many and varied uses that exist within the qualifying purposes. However, it is intended to be a guide for local authorities as to the types of uses that the government considers for this purpose to be eligible for relief.

7. The list below sets out the types of uses that we do not consider to be an eligible use for the purpose of this discount. Again, However, it is intended to be a guide for local authorities as to the types of uses that the government considers for this purpose are not eligible for relief.

i. Hereditaments that are being used for the provision of the following services to visiting members of the public:

      • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureau de change, short-term loan providers, betting shops)
      • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
      • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, employment agencies, estate agents, letting agents)
      • Post office sorting offices

ii. Hereditaments that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

 

Splits, mergers, and changes to existing hereditaments

The relief will be calculated on a day-to-day basis. A new hereditament created as a result of a split or merger during the financial year, or where there is a change of use, will have relief recalculated from the date the change comes into effect.

 

Recalculations of relief

The amount of relief awarded will be recalculated in the event of a change of circumstances. This could include, for example, a backdated change to the rateable value or the hereditament. This change of circumstances could arise during the year in question or during a later year.

Therefore, when making an award for the RHL scheme, the Council will ensure in the conditions of the award that the relief is subject to the property’s continuing eligibility.

 

Subsidy Control

The Retail Hospitality and Leisure Scheme is likely to amount to subsidy. Any relief provided by local authorities under this scheme will need to comply with the UK’s domestic and international subsidy control obligations (See the BEIS guidance for public authorities which contains guidance and information for the UK subsidy control regime).

To the extent that a Local Authority is seeking to provide relief that falls below the Minimal Financial Assistance (MFA) thresholds, the Subsidy Control Act allows an economic actor (e.g. a holding company and its subsidiaries) to receive up to £315,000 in a three-year period (consisting of the 2024/25 year and the two previous financial years). MFA subsidies cumulate with each other and with other subsidies that fall within the category of ‘Minimal or SPEI financial assistance’. BEIS COVID-19 business grants and any other subsidies claimed under the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement should be counted towards the £315,000 allowance.

In those cases where it is clear to the local authority that the ratepayer is likely to breach the cash cap or the MFA limit then the authority will automatically withhold the relief.

You can complete a Subsidy Control Declaration form online.

The Council will require ratepayers to self-assess eligibility and to issue a declaration if they breach the cash cap or Minimal Financial Assistance threshold.

 


Last Updated on Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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