Business Rate reliefs and discounts

Some properties are eligible for discounts from the council on their Business Rates. You can find the different types of reliefs and discounts available and the qualifying criteria below.

If you are a registered charity opening a business then you can apply for our charity rate relief. Charities are entitled to relief from rates on any non-domestic property which is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.

Relief is given at 80 per cent of the full rate bill or of the transitional bill where the transitional arrangements apply. You may also be eligible for a discretionary relief which could increase the relief you receive.

Find out more about  Charitable Rate Relief 

Our Discretionary Rate Relief applies to certain bodies not established or conducted for profit. For more information see the policy documents below: 

As of 01 April 2017, changes were introduced to Small Business Rate Relief, which reduces rate liability for smaller properties that meet the eligibility criteria.

The 2017 changes increase the thresholds for Small Business Rate Relief, which are as follows:

  • Occupied properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will attract 100% relief (no business rates will be payable)
  • Occupied properties with a rateable value of £12,001 to £15,000 will receive tapered relief

Occupied properties with a rateable value up to £51,000 will be subject to the small business multiplier (except ratepayers in receipt of Mandatory Charitable Relief).


Small Business Rate Relief can be awarded if a business has only one property, except where they have additional properties all of which have a rateable value of under £2,900 and the total rateable value of all their properties does not exceed £19,999.

Providing the ratepayer continues to satisfy the conditions for relief, which apply at the relevant time, as regards the property and the ratepayer, they will automatically continue to receive relief in each new revaluation period.

Ratepayers who satisfy the conditions will have the bill for their sole or main property calculated using the lower small business Non-Domestic rating multiplier rather than the National Non Domestic rating multiplier that is used to calculate the liability of the other businesses.

There are certain changes in circumstances the council will need to be notified of. These include:

(a) the ratepayer taking up occupation of any additional property within the UK

(b) an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than that which falls within the Lewes/Eastbourne area

(c) the ratepayer is vacating the property

Even if the property is eligible for and exempt of rates under the Small Business Rate Relief, the council must be updated with every change in occupation of the property.

Backdated Small Business Rate Relief:

You can apply for small business rate relief at any time during the current valuation period and for a further six months after the end of this period. You can also apply up to six months after the date the council is told about a change in the rateable value that means the property would be eligible for relief if this is later.

On 1 April 2017, the 2017 rating list came into effect. This means that you can apply for small business rate relief up to and including 30 September 2017 and still have this backdated to 1 April 2010. For applications received on the 1 October 2017 and later, Small Business Rate Relief can only be backdated to 1 April 2012.

Find out more about  Small Business Rate Relief 

Business Rates will not be payable in the first three months (six months for industrial properties) that a property is empty. After this period rates are payable in full.

Some properties can get extended empty property relief:    

  • industrial premises, such as warehouses, are exempt for a further three months
  • listed buildings are exempt until they become occupied again
  • buildings with a rateable value under £2,900 are exempt until they become occupied again
  • properties owned by charities are exempt if the property's next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for charitable purposes
  • community amateur sports club buildings are exempt if their next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for a sports club

A change in ownership or tenancy will not affect the right to an exemption. For example, if someone purchases or leases a property that has already been unoccupied for over three months a new period of exemption cannot be applied.  

All rateable values are reassessed every five years at a general revaluation. On 1 April 2017, the new rating list came into effect and your bill will be based on this new rateable value.

Property values normally change a good deal between each revaluation, so transitional relief arrangements help to phase-in the effects of these changes on ratepayers' bills. Large rises are restricted so businesses are not suddenly asked to pay much larger amounts and this is offset by limiting big gains where businesses would have to pay significantly less.

We will automatically include transitional relief when we calculate your bill. Transitional relief limits the percentage your business rates bill can be increased or decreased each year following revaluation. The transitional relief will apply each year until the full amount is due and your bill reaches what your full bill should be.

Update March 2022: At the Budget on 27 October 2021 the government announced that it would extend the current transitional relief scheme and the supporting small business scheme for one year to the end of the current revaluation cycle. The scheme will restrict increases in bills to 15% for businesses with small properties (up to and including £20,000 rateable value) and 25% for medium properties (up to and including £100,000 rateable value).

Find out more about  Transitional Rate Relief at

The rural rate relief scheme was introduced to help protect the last retail outlets and similar services in rural settlements with a population of less than 3,000.

Under the scheme, the following businesses in designated rural settlements are entitled to 100% rate relief

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

The property must be occupied.

It is possible for both a general store and a Post Office in the same rural area to qualify for mandatory rate relief, if they both meet the conditions.

To qualify for relief, a general store must mainly sell both food and general household goods. Only part of the property need be used as a general store. For example, the business of a general store and another business could be carried out side-by-side in one premises. If there are two general stores in the same rural area, neither will qualify for mandatory relief; although, if either functions as a Post Office, relief for this can be claimed separately.

We can also give discretionary relief of up to 100% for a property in a rural area with a rateable value of £16,500 or less, if we are satisfied that:

  • the property is used for purposes which are of benefit to the local community; and
  • it would be reasonable for us to award relief, having regard to the interest of the council tax payers in the district.

Find out more about  Rural Rate Relief at

What is Newhaven Enterprise Zone?

Newhaven Enterprise Zone is a partnership led by Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Lewes District Council, covering eight sites in Newhaven. Starting on 1 April 2017, businesses locating to any of these eight sites1 before 31 March 2022 are eligible to apply for rate relief on their business rates up to a maximum value of approximately £275,000 over a five-year period.

How do I qualify?

Each application will be assessed by our EZ team and, if necessary, referred to the EZ Project Board (comprising Senior Officers from Lewes District Council, East Sussex County Council, Newhaven Town Council and Coast to Capital LEP) for a decision.

The qualifying criteria against which applications will be assessed are:

  • The extent to which your organisation fits with the overall ambitions for the Enterprise Zone
  • The level of investment being made by your organisation in Newhaven.  
  • The level of employment created / safeguarded, as well as a clear commitment to creating employment, apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities for local residents.
  • The plans for the expansion / growth of your organisation over the short and longer-terms.  
  • State Aid De Minimis regulations and threshold levels.

Am I eligible?

Business rate relief via the Newhaven Enterprise Zone is focused on new investment and relocation to Newhaven. There is no relief available for existing businesses that are not occupying new premises or generating significant employment growth. 

How can I apply?

Eligible ratepayers are required to apply as soon as they register for business rates with Lewes District Council. The application form must be fully completed, signed and accompanied by supporting information.

View detailed guidance notes and download an application form on the Newhaven Enterprise Zone website.

What other obligations do I have?

Your Business Rate Relief will continue for a maximum of five years as long as there are no relevant changes to your situation. You are required to inform the council in writing within 21 days of a change coming into effect. You will be required to complete an annual monitoring form for the council. Failure to complete this within the specified timeframe will lead to the withdrawal of your Rate Relief through the Enterprise Zone.

State aid

When awarding any business rate relief within the Newhaven Enterprise Zone, the council must administer this within the State Aid De Minimis levels. This is because this type of Rate Relief is classified as ‘State Aid’ and is subject to guidelines and an agreed upper limit.

In the autumn 2018 budget the government announced a new Business Rate relief scheme for retail properties that have a rateable value which falls under £51,000. For the 2020/21 financial year the discount will apply to all eligible properties with any rateable value.

The scheme will run for two years from April 2019 ending 31 March 2021. Under the scheme, eligible ratepayers in the Lewes district and Eastbourne borough will be entitled to a discount of one third off their Business Rates bill in 2019/20 and a 100% discount in 2020/21. Eligible businesses will have their award applied directly to their bill.

The discount has been made available to benefit the following retail areas:

  • Hereditaments that offer sale of food or drinks to visiting members of the public
  • Hereditaments that are being used for provision of certain services to visiting members of the public
  • Hereditaments that are being used for the sale of food and/ or drink to visiting members of the public 

In the 2020/21 financial year as part of the coronavirus response the discount will be expanded to include:

  • 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)

  • Hereditaments that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public

  • Hereditaments where the non-domestic part is being used for the provision of living accommodation as a business e.g hotels

  • cinemas and live music venues

Please see our Expanded Retail Discount Policy below for further information. 

Update for 2021: On 3 March 2021 the government confirmed that the Expanded Retail Discount would continue to apply in 2021/22 at 100% for three months, from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021, and at 66% for the remaining period, from 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022. The government confirmed that there would be no cash cap on the relief received for the period from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. From 1 July 2021, relief will be capped at £105,000 per business, or £2 million per business where the business is in occupation of a property that was required, or would have been required, to close, based on the law and guidance applicable on 5 January 2021.

Update for 2022: At the Budget on 27 October 2021 the Chancellor announced the introduction of a new business rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality and leisure properties worth almost £1.7 billion in 2022/23. This will support the businesses that make our high streets and town centres a success and help them to evolve and adapt to changing consumer demands.

The 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief Scheme will provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 50% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.

We will apply the 50% relief to accounts that were in receipt of the previous 66% discount and the rate payer will need to confirm eligibility in order to retain the relief. Further details to follow.