Reliefs and exemptions

Types or relief

There are a number of types of relief available and these are explained in brief below. Further information and application forms for all types of relief are available from the Business Rates Team, who you can contact through Customer Services.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Reliefs

These measures are intended to support businesses affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Universal 1.6% Relief

All properties in Scotland are eligible for a 1.6% relief on their gross rates bill. This applies to the gross rates payable, i.e. taking into account the poundage plus any supplements the property may be liable for.

This relief does not require an application and is applied to all properties.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief

100% relief is available for non-domestic properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

Eligibility is based on the property being wholly or mainly used for purposes set out in Schedule 1 of The Non-Domestic Rates (Coronavirus Reliefs) (Scotland) Regulations 2020. For the avoidance of doubt, lands and heritages which have been restricted temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID-19 should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief.

In order to qualify for the relief, properties, properties must have been occupied on 17 March 2020.

Hospitality (classes 1 to 10 of Schedule 1) is considered to include bed and breakfast accommodation, camping sites, caravans, caravan sites, chalets, holiday huts, bothies, guest houses, hotels, hostels, public houses (which includes licensed pubs and nightclubs where the sale of alcohol is principally intended for consumption on the premises, and there is no requirement that people consume food on the premises in order to purchase alcohol), restaurants, self-catering holiday accommodation and timeshare accommodation.

 Retail (classes 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16) include:

  • markets the use of which is defined as: “market place on which goods are exhibited for sale to members of the public”);
  • retail shops the use of which is defined as: “Use as a shop, being a building or part of a building that is used for the retail sale of goods to members of the public who visit the building to buy goods for consumption or use elsewhere, whether or not by the buyer, for purposes unconnected with a trade or business”;
  • service providers the use of which is defined as: “Use to provide hair and beauty services, shoe repairs, key cutting, photo processing, laundry services, car or tool hire, car washing or repair of domestic electronic/electrical goods”;
  • Registered letting agencies;
  • Funeral parlours; and
  • Travel agencies (used by a travel agency or by a tour operator).

Leisure (Class 13) includes properties used as an arts gallery or centre, sports club, sports centre, sports ground, clubhouse, gymnasium, museum, cinema, theatre, music venue, ticket office, recreation ground, bingo hall, tourist attraction or tourist facility.

This relief does not require an application and will be applied to all eligible properties.

Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS)

From 1 April 2008, this replaced Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR).

The Small Business Bonus Scheme provides relief to businesses with properties in Scotland of which the combined rateable value is £18,000 or less.  In addition, where the cumulative rateable value of business properties falls between £18,000 and £35,000, the scheme will offer 25% relief to individual properties with a rateable value £18,000 or under. 

The exact level of relief therefore depends on: 
(i) the total rateable value of all subjects occupied by the rate-payer; and
(ii) whether or not the property is eligible for one of the existing non-discretionary rate reliefs.

Part of the cost of the scheme is met by a supplement added to the rates bills of properties with a rateable value over £35,000 and this is applied to the Rates bill after adjustments for any relief that may apply.

To apply submit the online Small Business Bonus Application Form.

Unoccupied Properties

From 1 April 2016 standard empty properties will attract 50% relief for the first 3 months of the property being empty; thereafter the relief will reduce to 10%.

For Industrial empty properties the relief will be 100% for the first 6 months of the property being empty and thereafter will reduce to 10%. 

Please note for unoccupied non-industrial property that has been in receipt of unoccupied relief for a period of 3 months or more as at 1 April 2016, and for unoccupied industrial property that has been in receipt of unoccupied relief for a period of 6 months or more as at 1 April 2016 the level of unoccupied relief will change to 10% from 1 April 2016.

 

Listed buildings, property vested in some types of trustees, or property with a rateable value of £1,700 or less still qualify for full relief. 

Charities and Not-For-Profit Organisations

Properties occupied by registered charities or organisations whose main objectives are charitable, or are otherwise philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts may qualify for up to 100% relief. The property must be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.

Sports Clubs

Properties occupied by sports clubs, organisations registered with the Inland Revenue as Community Amateur Sports Clubs and organisations not established or conducted for profit which are mainly used for recreational purposes may qualify for up to 100% relief. Sports clubs with a license to sell alcohol are also eligible to apply.

Disabled Relief 

Properties for the provision of residential accommodation, training or welfare of disabled persons, persons suffering from illness or the after-care of persons who have been suffering from illness may qualify for up to 100% relief. This does not apply to the provision of medical, surgical or dental treatment. At least 50% of the floor area of the property must be used for one of the qualifying purposes.

Rural Relief

In rural settlements, 100% mandatory relief is available for certain qualifying public houses, small hotels, petrol filling stations (with a rateable value of £12,750 or less) and also for certain qualifying small food stores, general stores and Post Offices (with a rateable value of £8,500 or less). The Council also has discretion to award up to 100% relief to other properties, with a rateable value of £17,000 or less, used for purposes which are of benefit to the local community.

Fresh Start

From the 1 April 2018 the Fresh Start scheme has been expanded where the relief offered is 100% for 12 months provided the property meets the following eligibility criteria

  • property has been in receipt of empty property relief for a continuous period of at least 6 months; and
  •  the property has a rateable value of less than £65,000.

 

For claims up to 31 March 2018

The relief is 50% for 12 months provided the property meets the following eligibility criteria

  • property has been in receipt of empty property relief for a continuous period of at least 12 months; and
  • the property has a rateable value of less than £65,000; and
  • when last occupied, the property was last used as a shop, restaurant, pub or hotel as defined in the regulations regardless of what the intended future use is.

No other relief can be awarded when Fresh Start Relief is applicable.

State Aid rules may apply – further information on state aid is available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/State-Aid

New Start

The relief offered is 15 months of up to 100%. State aid de minimis applies to this relief meaning no business can receive more than 200,000 Euros over a rolling 3 year period. To qualify the property must be entered into the valuation roll between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2018, it must be unoccupied at the time of entry on to the valuation roll and the new entry cannot be as a result of a combination, division, refurbishment or change to an existing entry on the valuation roll. This scheme has been extended to 31 March 2018.

Transitional Relief

The Scottish Government has continued the scheme for 2018/19. The relief will limit any increase in the gross bill for 2018/19 to 12.5% in real terms based on the gross bill as at 31 March 2017.

The properties eligible are those that are wholly or mainly used for one of the following specified purposes

  • Bed & Breakfast Accommodation
  • Camping Site
  • A Caravan
  • A Caravan Site
  • Chalet & Holiday Hut
  • Guest House, Hotel and Hostel
  • Public House or Nightclub (subject to certain licensing criteria)
  • Restaurants
  • Self-Catering Holiday Accommodation
  • Timeshare Accommodation

State Aid rules may apply – further information on state aid is available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/State-Aid

Day Nursery Relief

From the 1 April 2018 a property that is wholly or mainly used to provide day nursery care for pre-school children may be eligible for relief.  The relief will last for 3 years from 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2021.

State Aid rules may apply – further information on state aid is available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/State-Aid

New and Improved Property

From the 1 April 2018 any relevant new entry lands and heritages that is not a result of a combination or division of an existing entry can claim relief for up to 12 months.

Where there has been a relevant increase in the rateable value on an existing property due to improvements, 100% relief for 12 months can be awarded on the relevant increase.

State Aid rules may apply – further information on state aid is available at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/State-Aid