Discounts, exemptions and reliefs

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme 2024/25

The 2024/25 retail, hospitality and leisure business rates relief scheme will provide occupied retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 75% relief up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business. Ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties up to the maximum £110,000 cash cap per business. No business rates payer should in any circumstances exceed this limit across all of their properties in England.


Your business could qualify for the award if it is located in occupied, non-domestic rate properties that are wholly or mainly:

  • Shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas or live music venues
  • For assembly or leisure, sports clubs, village halls, nightclubs, tourist attractions
  • Hotels, guesthouses, self-catering accommodation

Find out more about the scheme.

How it's awarded

Southampton City Council will, for the 2024/25 financial year:

  • Automatically award this relief to businesses that it does consider will be eligible for this scheme
  • Withhold this relief where it is likely that the business ratepayer will breach the cash limit

If you have received the award but are not eligible

You should notify us immediately if your business has automatically been awarded this relief but:

  • You believe that it will breach the £110,000 cash cap limit
  • Your business will exceed the Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit of £315,000 over three years (including 2024/25)

If you do not wish to accept the expanded retail discount, you can opt out by contacting business rates.

If you haven't received the award but believe you are eligible

If your business has not automatically been awarded this relief, and you are of the opinion that it does meet the qualifying criteria, please contact business rates with full details of your:

  • Business name
  • Account number
  • Full address

Unoccupied Property Rating

Business Rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty, or six months in the case of industrial properties. After this period, rates are payable in full. However, there are certain exemptions from the empty charge which include listed buildings and properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900.


The following will remain subject to a zero rate when empty if:

  • The property has a rateable value of less than £2,900
  • Occupation prohibited by law
  • Vacant due to action taken on behalf of the Crown
  • Subject to building preservation notice – listed building
  • Included in schedule of monuments as compiled under Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979(b)
  • Owner entitled to possession only in his capacity as personal representative of a deceased person
  • In respect of owner’s estate there subsists a bankruptcy order
  • Owner entitled possession as trustee under deed of arrangement
  • Owner is a company subject to winding-up order under the Insolvency Act 1986 or being wound up voluntarily under that act
  • Owner in administration or subject to administration order
  • Owner entitled to possession in capacity as liquidator

Exemption will also be approved where the ratepayer is a charity or trustee for a charity and it appears that when next in use the property will be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes.

The same applies where the ratepayer is a registered club and it appears when next in use it will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of that registered club or clubs.

Partly occupied property relief (section 44a)

A rate payer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, the council has the discretion to ask the valuation officer to apportion the rateable value between the occupied and unoccupied parts, for the current financial year.

This rate relief is intended for properties where there are practical difficulties in occupying or vacating a property in one operation. It is not intended that S44a be used where part of a property is temporarily not used or its use is temporarily reduced i.e. where plant, equipment or machinery remain in it.

Business rates – transitional relief scheme

The government has provided a Transitional Relief Scheme to phase in any increased rates charges due to Revaluation 2023. The relief does not apply to increases due to changes to the property after the revaluation date, 1 April 2023. Any Transitional Relief will be shown on your bill if it applies.

The transition scheme for Revaluation 2023 limits bill increases to the following percent plus inflation (the government has set inflation at 0% for 2023/24 transition purposes):

Rateable Value 2023/24 2024/25 2025/26
Small < £20,000 5% 10% 25%
Medium £20,000 to £100,000 15% 25% 40%
Large > £100,000 30% 40% 55%

Example: Medium Rateable Value (RV) increase

  • 31/03/23 RV = £20,750
  • 01/04/23 RV = £37,500

2023/24 year one

  • Base Liability (BL): £20,750 x 49.9p (2022/23 small business multiplier) = £10,354.25
  • Appropriate Fraction (transition limit & inflation)(AF): 1.15 + 0% = 1.15
  • Notional Chargeable Amount (NCA): £37,500 x 49.9p (2023/24 small business multiplier) = £18,712.50
  • Transition = (BL x AF) – NCA = £11,907.39 - £18,712.50 = -£6,805.11

2023/24 bill

  • Gross Charge £18,712.50
  • Transitional Relief -£6,805.11
  • Amount Due £11,907.39

2024/25 year two

  • BL: £11,907.39
  • AF: 1.25 + 2%* = 1.275
  • NCA: £37,500 x 50.9p* = £19,087.50
  • Transition = £15,181.92 - £19,087.50 = -£3,905.58

*using hypothetical 2% inflation

2024/25 bill

  • Gross Charge £19,087.50
  • Transitional Relief -£3,905.58
  • Amount Due £15,181.92