Reliefs and exemptions

Some properties are eligible for discounts on their business rates. This is called ‘business rates relief’.

Below you will find further information on the following types of reliefs and details of how to apply.

  • small business rate relief
  • rural rate relief
  • charitable rate relief
  • hardship relief
  • retail discount
  • local newspaper relief
  • public toilet relief
  • Supporting small business rate relief
  • Improvement relief

Where appropriate we will automatically apply:

  • unoccupied properties and exempted buildings
  • transitional relief if your rates change by more than a certain amount at revaluation

Small business relief

You can get small business rate relief if:

  • your property’s rateable value is less than £15,000
  • your business only uses one property - you may still be able to get relief if you use more

If you wish to apply for the relief please complete this application form. Please note you will require your account number and property reference number (PRN) to apply. This can be found either in the bottom left hand corner of your bill or searched for on the Valuation Office website.

Our application portal uses data provided by Companies House. To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure your Companies House information is correct and up to date prior to submitting an application.

What you get

You will not pay business rates on a property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

For properties with a rateable value of £12,001 to £15,000, the rate of relief will go down gradually from 100% to 0%.


If your rateable value is £13,500, you’ll get 50% off your bill. If your rateable value is £14,000, you’ll receive a discount of 33%.

If you use more than one property

When you occupy a second property, you’ll keep getting any existing relief on your main property for 12 months.

You can still get small business rate relief on your main property after this if both the following apply:

  • none of your other properties have a rateable value above £2,899
  • the total rateable value of all your properties is less than £20,000

You’re a small business but do not qualify for small business rate relief 

If your property in England has a rateable value below £51,000, your bill will be calculated using the small business multiplier, which is lower than the standard one.

Change in circumstances

Provided 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 valuation period.

Certain changes in circumstances will need to be notified to the local authority by a ratepayer who is in receipt of relief.

The changes which should be notified are—

(a)  the ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and

(b)  an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief.

Rural 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.

You will not pay business rates if your business is in designated rural and either:

  • the sole village shop or post office with a rateable value of up to £8,500
  • the sole public house or petrol station with a rateable value of up to £12,500


Charitable rate relief

Milton Keynes City Council (MKCC) has discretion to award additional relief to charities and non-profit making organisations under s47 of the Local Government Finance Act (LGFA) 1988.


Mandatory relief

Charities and community amateur sports clubs can apply for charitable rate relief of 80% if a property is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes.

For organisations wishing to apply for mandatory rate relief please apply online and select ‘Charitable Rate Relief Application’ in the rates discount forms section.

Discretionary relief

Milton Keynes City Council (MKCC) has discretion to award additional relief to charities and non-profit making organisations under s47 of the Local Government Finance Act (LGFA) 1988.

A significant portion of any discretionary relief granted is funded directly by MKCC, and because of this, the LGFA requires that the relief granted is in the general interests of MKCC tax payers. For example,

  • Providing facilities which benefit the MKCC tax payers directly  
  • Reduce the demand for MKCC services.

The form is designed to assist in this determination. The determination is entirely a decision for MKCC.

Generally, discretionary relief will be awarded for the whole of the financial year (April to March) unless your organisation is not liable for the whole period or does not fulfil the criteria for the whole period.

Please apply online and select ‘Discretionary Rate Relief Application’ in the rates discount forms section.

Please ensure you have read the guidance notes before completing and submitting your form, it is important that you provide all of the supporting information and evidence with your application.


Guidance notes

For guidance on Discretionary Rate Relief for charities and non-profit making organisations, please see our discretionary rate relief guidelines.

Discretionary Rate Relief Guidelines 24/25

Discretionary Rate Relief Policy 24/25

Hardship relief

In England, councils can reduce your business rates bill with hardship relief.

To be eligible, you must satisfy your council that both:

  • you would be in financial difficulties without it
  • giving hardship relief to you is in the interests of local people

The local authority has discretion to give hardship relief in specific circumstances. Full details can be obtained from the revenues service on 01908 253794.

Retail rate relief

The Government has announced that they will continue to provide eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties in England with 75% business rates relief for the financial year 2024/25 up to a cash cap of £110,000 per business group and subject to subsidy.

Please apply online and select ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme’ in the rates discount forms section.

You could qualify for retail discount if your business is a:

  • Shops (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: hairdressers, 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 
  • Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Sandwich shops
  • Coffee shops
  • Pubs
  • Bars
  • Cinema
  • Live music venue
  • Sports grounds and clubs 
  • Museums and art galleries
  • Nightclubs
  • Sport and leisure facilities
  • Stately homes and historic houses
  • Theatres
  • Tourist attractions
  • Gyms
  • Wellness centres, spas, massage parlours
  • Casinos, gambling clubs and bingo halls
  • Public halls
  • Clubhouses, clubs and institutions 
  • Hotels, guest and boarding houses
  • Holiday homes
  • Caravan parks and sites

Businesses that are not eligible for retail relief include:

  • Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash points, bureaux de change, short-term loan providers, betting shops)
  • Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors)
  • Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents/ financial advisers, employment agencies, estate agents, letting agents)
  • Post office sorting offices
  • Hereditaments that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public

In line with the conditions set by the government, a ratepayer may only claim up to £110,000 of support under the 2024/25 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme for all of their eligible hereditaments. This cash cap applies at a Group company level (so holding companies and subsidiaries cannot claim up to the cash cap for each company) and also to organisations which, although not a company, have such an interest in a company that they would, if they were a company, result in its being the holding company.

Furthermore, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme is subject to the Minimal Financial Assistance limits under the Subsidy Control Act. This means no recipient can receive over £315,000 over a 3-year period (consisting of the current financial year and the 2 previous financial years). Covid business grants received from local government and any other subsidy claimed under the Minimal Financial Assistance or Small Amounts of Financial Assistance limit over the 3-year period should be counted.

Therefore, to claim the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure relief you must not have exceeded either the £110,000 cash cap for 2024/25 or the Minimal Financial Assistance limit of £315,000 over 3 years (including 2024/25).

Further details of the cash cap and subsidy control can be found at: Business Rates Relief: 2024/25 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Scheme - GOV.UK (

The government and Milton Keynes Council will not tolerate any business falsifying their records or providing false evidence to gain this discount, including claiming support above the cash cap or the exemption threshold. A ratepayer who falsely applies for any relief or provides false information or makes false representation in order to gain relief may be guilty of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006.

Please apply online select ‘Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Relief Scheme’ in the rates discount forms section.

Relief for local newspapers

You could get local newspaper relief if your property is used as office premises for journalists and reporters on a local newspaper.

The relief is a £1,500 reduction in business rates for eligible properties per year.

You can only get the relief for one property per newspaper even if more than one property is used as offices for the newspaper.

If several local newspapers use the same office, they can only get the relief on one newspaper title.

You cannot get the relief for magazines.

Public toilet relief

This will provide 100% relief to hereditaments wholly or mainly used as public lavatories (whether they are free or charging) backdated to 1 April 2020.

Unoccupied properties

You do not have to pay business rates on empty buildings for 3 months. After this time, most businesses must pay full business rates.

Some properties can get extended empty property relief:

  • industrial premises (for example warehouses) are exempt for a further 3 months
  • listed buildings - until they’re reoccupied
  • buildings with a rateable value under £2,900 - until they’re reoccupied
  • properties owned by charities - only if the property’s next use will be mostly for charitable purposes
  • community amateur sports clubs buildings - only if the next use will be mostly as a sports club

Supporting small business rate relief

The Government has reintroduced the supporting small business rate relief scheme for small businesses that as a result of the revaluation are losing some or all of their small business or rural rate relief and, as a result, are facing large increases in their bills.  

The ratepayer must have been in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief on 31 March 2023 and must have had their bill increased by more than £600 as a result of the revaluation.   

In the first year of the scheme, this means all ratepayers losing some or all of their small business rate relief or rural rate relief will see the increase in their bill capped at £600. The cash minimum increase is £600 per year thereafter.  

Ratepayers remain in the supporting small businesses relief scheme for three years or until they reach the bill they would have paid without the scheme.  

Eligibility will be lost if the property falls vacant or becomes occupied by a charity. 

Improvement relief

Improvement Relief will support businesses wishing to invest in their property. It will ensure that no ratepayer will face higher Business Rates bills for 12 months, as a result of qualifying improvements to a property they occupy.

If, you have made qualifying improvements to your property, the Valuation Office will issue a certificate equal to the increase in the rateable value. Where, the same ratepayer has been in occupation of the property since the works started their bill will not increase for the first 12 months after the works were completed.

Exempted buildings

Certain properties are exempt from business rates.

You may not have to pay business rates on:

  • agricultural land and buildings, including fish farms
  • buildings used for training or welfare of disabled people
  • buildings registered for public religious worship or church halls

However, there are strict legal requirements for these exemptions.

If your property is in England, you can report that you think it should be exempt using the Valuation Office Agency service.

Transitional relief

Transitional relief limits how much your bill can change each year as a result of business rates revaluation. This means changes to your bill are phased in gradually, if you’re eligible.

We will adjust your bill automatically if you’re eligible.

How much your bill can change by from one year to the next depends on both:

  • your property’s rateable value
  • whether your bill is increasing or decreasing as a result of revaluation

You stop getting transitional relief when your bill reaches the full amount set by a revaluation.


If your bill is increasing from 1 April 2023

Rateable value

2023 to 2024

2024 to 2025

2025 to 2026

Up to £20,000 (£28,000 in London)


10% plus inflation

25% plus inflation

£20,001 (£28,001 in London) to £100,000


25% plus inflation

40% plus inflation

Over £100,000


40% plus inflation

55% plus inflation

Business Rates

Business Rates contact information

  • 01908 253794 - 9am-5pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). Wednesday 10am to 5pm.

Revenues Service, PO Box 5327, Civic, 1 Saxon Gate East, Milton Keynes MK9 3EJ