Business Rates - Rural Rate Relief

Government legislation provides that certain properties in a rural settlement can receive help with their Business Rates.

A rural settlement is defined as a settlement with a population of no more than 3,000, which is wholly or partly within a Council's area.

We have identified seven Rural Settlements that currently meet all the criteria. They are Sefton Parish, Ince Blundell, Thornton, Hightown, Little Crosby, Lunt, and Homer Green. We have also identified properties eligible within those areas that qualify for Mandatory relief of 100% (previously 50%). This will be shown on your demand if you qualify. If relief is not shown on your rates demand and you think that we should have awarded you Mandatory Relief please contact the Business Rates Section on 0151 934 4360.


The Council must give 100% (previously 50%) relief to the following that are situated in a rural settlement:

  • Post Office - where it is the only Post Office in the settlement and has a rateable value of £8,500 or less.
  • General Store - where it is the only General Store in the settlement and has a rateable value of £8,500 or less.
  • All Food Store - Where they have a rateable value of £8,500 or less
  • Public House - where it is the only Public House in the settlement and has a rateable value of £12,500 or less
  • Petrol Filling Station - where it is the only Petrol Filling Station in the settlement and has a rateable value of £12,500 or less

Definition of a General Store

For the purposes of Rural Rate Relief, “General Store” means a business or trade which wholly or mainly sells both food for human consumption (other than confectionery) and general household goods.

Where there are two or more General Stores within the same Rural Settlement, neither will qualify for Mandatory Relief on that basis, if one of them functions as a Post Office or a Food Shop relief may be claimed independently on that ground. 

Both a General Store and a Post Office in the same Rural Settlement will qualify for Mandatory Relief, provided that they both meet the criteria. 

Although a General Store or a Post Office may not meet the criteria for Mandatory Relief, they may still be eligible to apply for Discretionary Relief.

Definition of a Public House

For the purposes of Rural Rate Relief, “Public House” means any premises as defined in the Licensing Act 2003 which has a premises licence authorising sale by retail of alcohol for consumption on the premises. In addition the premises must be used principally for retail sales of alcohol to members of the public for consumption on the premises, and sales must not be subject to the condition that buyers reside at or consume food on the premises.

Definition of a Petrol Filling Station

For the purposes of Rural Rate Relief, “Petrol Filling Station” means premises where petrol or other automotive fuels are sold retail to the general public for fuelling motor vehicles intended or adapted for use on roads

Definition of a Food Shop

For the purpose of Rural Rate Relief, “Food Shop” means a trade or business consisting wholly or mainly of the sale by retail of food for human consumption (excluding confectionery and catering – in this context catering means any supply of food for consumption on the premises on which it is supplied and any supply of hot food for consumption off the premises). Thus, this definition may also include shops which sell mainly household foods and which may partly also sell hot take away food or food consumed on the premises.   But shops whose main business is a restaurant, tearoom, take-away, or confectionery sales are not Food Shops and so will not qualify for Mandatory Relief.

The Government will fund the council to provide the increase to 100% relief in the prescribed circumstances, up to State Aid de Minimis limits.
Ratepayers will be required to return a State Aid declaration confirming whether they have received any other De Minimis State Aid and to confirm that the award of the Rural Rate Relief would not cause the ratepayer to exceed the €200,000 of State Aid an undertaking can receive under the De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013.

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

The Council also has the discretion to allow up to 50% Discretionary Relief in respect of any property which qualifies for 50% Mandatory Relief and the Council may also grant up to 100% Discretionary Relief to any rural business provided that all of the following criteria are met:- 

  • The property is located in a qualifying Rural Settlement.
  • The Rateable Value of the property does not exceed £16,500 (£14,000 prior to 1 April 2010) at the beginning of the rating year concerned
  • The property is occupied by a business that benefits the local community
  • It is reasonable for the Council to grant relief having regard to the interests of persons liable to pay the Council Tax set by it.

Discretionary Relief is not limited to any particular type of business.  Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that their business is important to the maintenance of village life.

If you apply for discretionary rural rate relief you will be required to provide the following information to support you application:

  • The past three years' audited accounts, or, in the case of a new business, an estimate of annual income and expenditure and cash flow forecast for a minimum of the next twelve months
  • Details of the impact of not granting relief on the business and the local community.
  • Whether the organisation is a local or national organisation and support available from national organisation if appropriate.
  • An outline of how the business contributes to the economic growth / regeneration of the local area
  • Number of people that use the service and the percentage that are residents of Sefton.
  • Details of any other relief or support received including that provided by Sefton Council.
  • Details of other businesses in the area providing a similar service.
  • A state aid declaration

We may also arrange for one of our inspectors to visit the property.

49% of the cost of any discretionary relief granted falls directly on the local Council Tax payers and therefore, the council must ensure that the granting of any relief benefits the wider community within Sefton as well as the ratepayer concerned.

Each application for discretionary relief is considered on its merits in accordance with Government guidelines and European Union requirements with regard to State Aid de minimis limits. State aid rules limits any business to €200,000 of aid over a rolling three year period.

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

Prior to 1st April 2017 an eligible ratepayer was entitled to relief at 50% of the full charge, the Council also has discretion to give further relief on the remaining 50%. Any application must be submitted and determined by the Council no later than 6 months after the end of the financial year to which it relates which for 2016/2017 means the application must be determined by 30th September 2017.

In addition, the Council has the discretion to give relief on certain other occupied property in a rural settlement where the rateable value is less than £16,500.
Ratepayers will be required to return a State Aid declaration confirming whether they have received any other De Minimis State Aid and to confirm that the award of the Rural Rate Relief would not cause the ratepayer to exceed the €200,000 of State Aid an undertaking can receive under the De Minimis Regulations EC 1407/2013.

Please note whilst your application is being processed, your current rates are due and payable.

If relief is awarded an amended rates demand will be issued with new payment instructions. This will take account of any payments you have already made.

To apply please complete the application form in the 'Do it online' section of this page.

Any application must be submitted and determined by the Council no later than 6 months after the end of the financial year to which it relates.

Further advice and help for businesses is available at from Invest Sefton, who can be contacted via the 'related links' section of this page.

If you feel that the rateable value of the property is incorrect you can appeal at any time directly to the valuation office. Details of how to do this can be found in the 'How do I appeal?' section on the rateable value page of this website.

 

 


Last Updated on 26 February 2019