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Business rates 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.

Charitable rate relief

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


Discretionary rate relief

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

Discretionary rate relief policy Eastbourne Borough Council (PDF) [110KB]
Discretionary rate relief policy Lewes District Council (PDF) [130KB]



Small business rate relief

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


Unoccupied property 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.  


Transitional rate relief

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 relief at


Rural rate relief

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


Newhaven Enterprise Zone

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


Retail, hospitality and leisure relief

You could qualify for retail, hospitality and leisure relief if your business is mainly being used as a:

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

What you'll get

If you're eligible, you could get:

  • 50% off your business rates bills for the 2022 to 2023 tax year (1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023)
  • 75% off your business rates bills for the 2023 to 2024 tax year (1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024)

The most you can get in each tax year is £110,000 per business.

You may be able to get retail, hospitality and leisure relief on top of other types of business rates relief you're eligible for.

If you opt out of retail, hospitality and leisure relief for the 2022 to 2023 or 2023 to 2024 tax years you cannot change your mind.

The 75% relief for 2023-24 will be automatically awarded to customers who had the 50% relief at the end of 2022-23. 

If you would like to apply for the relief please contact us

2020 Expanded Retail Discount Guidance (PDF) [210KB]
Expanded Retail Discount policy (PDF) [497KB]


Supporting Small Business Relief 2023

You can get supporting small business relief from 1 April 2023 if both of the following apply:

  • your business property's rateable is going up after the revaluation on 1 April 2023
  • you'll lose some or all of your small business rate relief or rural rate relief

What you'll get

If you're eligible, your bills will go up by no more than £600 for the 2023 to 2024 tax year.

We will adjust your bill if you're eligible.

Note: There has been a delay in the software to apply the relief for Lewes District Council Business Rates accounts and amended bills will be sent to eligible customers by the end of March 2023.