On 17th March the Chancellor announced an extended business rates relief to provide support during the current Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Government has now published the guidance notes to local authorities which set out the parameters for such relief. In quick summary:

  • The guidance applies to England only
  • The guidance sets out detailed criteria to be eligible for the “Expanded Retail Discount”
  • The relief will apply to occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in the year 2020/21. 
  • The £51,000 RV limit will no longer apply.
  • The Government have made an application to disapply the State Aid rules.
Properties that will benefit
Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied properties that are wholly or mainly being used:
  • As shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • For assembly and leisure
  • For hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
Shops, restaurants, cafes
Government considers shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues to mean:
  • Properties that are being used for the sale of goods to visiting members of the public: such as: florists, bakers, butchers, grocers, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off licences, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, supermarkets etc
  • Charity shops
  • Opticians
  • Post offices
  • Furnishing shops/ display rooms (such as: carpet shops, double glazing, garage doors)
  • Car/caravan show rooms
  • Second-hand car lots
  • Markets
  • Petrol stations
  • Garden centres
  • Art galleries (where art is for sale/hire)
  • Hair and beauty services (such as: hair dressers, nail bars, beauty salons, tanning shops, etc
  • Shoe repairs/key cutting
  • Travel agents
  • Ticket offices e.g. for theatre
  • Dry cleaners
  • Launderettes
  • PC/TV/domestic appliance repair
  • Funeral directors
  • Photo processing
  • Tool hire
  • Car hire
Sale of food and/or drink
Government considers properties that are being used for the sale of food and/or drink to visiting members of the public to mean:
  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Coffee shops
  • Pubs
  • Bars

Government includes cinemas as qualifying properties and properties that are being used as live music venues.

Leisure properties
Government considers assembly and leisure properties means properties 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):
  • Sports grounds and clubs
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Nightclubs
  • Sport and leisure facilities
  • Stately homes and historic houses
  • Theatres
  • Tourist attractions
  • Gyms
Visiting members of the public
Government considers properties that are being used for the assembly of visiting members of the public means:
  • Public halls
  • Clubhouses, clubs and institutions
Hotels, guest & boarding premises
Government considers hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation to mean:
  • Hotels
  • Guest and Boarding Houses
  • Holiday homes
  • Caravan parks and sites
Not considered eligible
The list below sets out the types of uses that the Government does not consider to be an eligible use for the purpose of this relief:
  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops, pawn brokers)
  • Other services (e.g. estate agents, letting agents, employment agencies)
  • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, tutors
  • Post office sorting offices
  • Casinos and gambling clubs

The total amount of government-funded relief available for each property for 2020/21 eligible under this scheme is 100% of the bill.


During the transition period for leaving the EU State Aid rules will continue to apply. The Government has notified the EU of its intention to bring forward an immediate change to the UK’s tax treatment of non-domestic property, in response to the ongoing Covid-19 emergency. As a result the government are seeking clearance under Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Subject to this approval, the scheme will apply to all businesses that are eligible.

Key Contacts

Chris Perrin

Chris Perrin

Partner, Real Estate Disputes

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Andrew Finfer

Andrew Finfer

Legal Director, Commercial
Edinburgh, UK

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Bruce Kilpatrick

Bruce Kilpatrick

Partner, Head of Competition
London, UK

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