Search site

All you need to know about Business Rates including explanatory notes

What are Non-Domestic Rates and who has to pay them?

How are my Rates calculated?

What is a Rateable Value?

I think my Rateable Value is incorrect, what can I do?

My premises are empty, is there an exemption from charges?

How do I apply for Small Business Rates Relief?

Am I entitled to Mandatory Rate Relief?

Can I claim Discretionary Rate Relief?

I am a local newspaper, can I claim Relief?

Rural Settlement Relief

Full-fibre Infrastructure

Partly-occupied property Relief

Transitional scheme for the new rating list

What are Non-Domestic Rates and who has to pay them? 

 National Non-Domestic Rates are charged by the Government on those responsible for most business properties such as shops, offices, pubs, warehouses and factories. However, the property doesn't have to be used for a business - if it is used for purposes which are not domestic it is likely to be rateable.

'National Non-Domestic Rates' are also referred to as 'Business Rates'. They are the equivalent of Council Tax for non-domestic/business/commercial properties. 

The occupier of a non-domestic property normally pays the Business Rates, which is usually the owner/occupier/leaseholder.  We will send you a business rates bill each year.  

Back to top

How are my Rates calculated?

The rateable value multiplied by the rate poundage (a proportion of your rateable value set by the Government each year) gives the annual gross rates. 

There are two multipliers, the standard non-domestic rating multiplier and the small business non-domestic rating multiplier.

Standard rate 49.3p
Small business 48.0p 

Standard rate 47.9p
Small business 46.6p 

Back to top

What is a Rateable Value? 

All non-domestic properties have a rateable value set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).  The current valuations used by local authorities to calculate business rate bills are based on the 2017 valuation.  The rateable value represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for, on the open market as at 1 April 2015. 

More information on revaluation 2017 can be found at the Valuation Office Agency website.

Back to top

I think my Rateable Value is wrong, what can I do?

The VOA have launched a new process for challenging the 2017 valuation and the 2010 rating list has now closed.

If you disagree with your rateable value you will need to contact the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) directly.

More details on the CHECK, CHALLENGE, APPEAL process can be found here..

Back to top

Do I have to pay Business Rates if the property is empty? 

Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty.  This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties.  After this period, rates are payable in full regardless of whether there is a change of owner or tenant.

Business Rates are not charged if the property is empty and:

  • It is a small property with a rateable value of less than £2,900
  • A 'Listed Building' 

Apply for an Empty Property Exemption


Back to top

Am I entitled to Small Business Rates Relief?

Small business rate relief (SBRR) has been split into two elements.

The first element is available to all ratepayers who occupy properties with a rateable value under £51,000 from 1 April 2017. Ratepayers will have the bill for their property calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier rather than the ordinary non-domestic rating multiplier that is used to calculate the liability of other businesses.

Under the second element of SBRR eligible ratepayers will not pay any rates on properties with rateable values up to £12,000 from 1 April 2017, with a tapered relief of between 100 per cent and 0 per cent for properties with rateable values between £12,001 to £15,000.  To qualify for the percentage reduction ratepayers must occupy either:

a) one property with a rateable value of less than £15,000 in England, or  

b) one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,899 from 1 April 2017 and the total value of all the properties (including the main property) remains under £19,999.  SBRR is only payable on the main property.

Relief is only available on occupied properties; there is no relief if the property is vacant.

Please let us know if you take on an additional property in England as this could affect your entitlement.

Application for Small Business Rate Relief


Back to top

Am I entitled to Mandatory Rate Relief?

Registered charities using non-domestic properties for the main purpose or objective of the charity can claim 80 per cent relief from the business rates charge if:

  • a registered charity or trustees for a registered charity occupies the property, and
  • the property is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes.

Read more about Mandatory Relief

Back to top

Can I claim Discretionary Rate Relief?

Businesses In Colchester Borough can apply for Discretionary Rate Relief if they are:

  • A Registered Charity
  • A Community Amateur Sports Club
  • An organisation which supports the strategic aims of the Council
  • Experiencing financial hardship

Discretionary relief is awarded based on a business meeting the criteria set out within the pdf icon Discretionary Rate Relief Policy [324kb].

Please note that all discretionary relief is subject to the 'De minimis' rule under state aid. 'De minimis' aid can be given for most purposes, including operating aid and is not project related.

It is the business's responsibility to inform the Council if they are in receipt of Government aid through other sources.

Application for Discretionary Rate Relief

Back to top

I am a local newspaper, can I claim relief?

There will be a £1,500 business rates discount for office space occupied by local newspapers in England up to a maximum of one discount per local newspaper title and per hereditament, and up to state aid limits, for two years from 1 April 2017.

Please contact the Business Rates team if you want to apply for Local Newspaper Relief.

Back to top


Rural settlement relief

Small businesses in a rural area with a population of less than 3000 will benefit from 100% relief from 1 April 2017 if you occupy a property in one of Colchester's rural settlements and is

  • the only general store, food shop or post office with a rateable value of up to £8,500
  • the only public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500

Back to top

Full-fibre infrastructure

A new 100% Business Rates relief for new full-fibre infrastructure for a 5 year period from 1 April 2017.

Back to top

Partly occupied property relief - Section 44(A) relief

Business Rates are payable whether a property is wholly or only partly occupied.

Where a property is partly occupied for a short period of time then we have discretion to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part of the property.

It will not be possible for an award to be considered in retrospect i.e. for a period after which the empty part of the property has become reoccupied.

Normally, we will send a member of the Business Rates team to look at how you are using your property at the time of your application.

Applications must be made in writing or by email and be made by the either by the occupier or owner (if different) or persons acting on their behalf, e.g. agents or solicitors.  Please submit a scale plan which clearly identifies the areas of occupation and those areas that are temporarily unoccupied.

Back to top

Transitional scheme for the new rating list

For those ratepayers who would otherwise have seen significant increases in their rates liability, the Government has put in place a transitional relief scheme to limit and phase in changes in rate bills as a result of the 2017 revaluation. To help pay for the limits on increases in bills, there were also limits on reductions in bills.

Under the transition scheme, limits apply to yearly increases and decreases until the full amount is due. The scheme applies only to the bill based on a property at the time of the revaluation. The transitional arrangements are applied automatically, you do not have to apply for them and they are shown on the front of your bill.

Back to top