Skip To The Main Content

Business Rates

The Issue

Business rates are a tax levied on the occupation of property and ownership of empty buildings. All non-domestic properties need to pay business rates, similar to individuals paying council tax on private residences. The revenue raised is used as part of the funding for local services.

However, this system is out-dated, unfair and not related to the ability to pay, or changing economic circumstances. As a result, they are consistently the third highest cost for small businesses after staff and rent.

Action FSB have taken

  • We’ve repeatedly called for the business rates system to be fundamentally reformed.
  • We’ve gathered evidence from members about the implications of the complicated and regressive system.
  • We’ve been instrumental in the introduction and improvement of small business rate relief schemes across the UK.

Our Goal

We believe UK small businesses should not be burdened by an expensive, inflexible and unfair tax. Our campaigning has seen the Chancellor announce a review of the current, outdated system. We want small firms to benefit from a fairer, more flexible system that doesn’t discourage growth and investment.

Achievements in...



  • After years of campaigning on behalf of our members, the small business rate relief was permanently doubled at the April budget of 2016. This means any business with a rateable value of £12,000 or less now pays no business rates at all. 
  • After intensive lobbying from FSB, the government announced an extra £435 million in relief for businesses suffering from rises as a result of the 2017 revaluation. 
  • At the 2016 Autumn Statement the government doubled rural rates relief to 100% for qualifying small businesses.
Visit UK/Westminster section

Northern Ireland

  • Lobbying has resulted in more businesses qualifying within the 20 per cent bracket. A full evaluation will take place during 2014 and the FSB is lobbying for the relief to continue beyond 2015.
Visit Northern Ireland section


  • Small Business Rates will be fully devolved to Wales, and as a result the Welsh Government has now started consulting on reforms to the business rates system.
Visit Wales section


  • In Scotland the FSB has secured the most generous small business package (until 2016), benefiting almost 4,000 businesses.

  • In 2013 we successfully argued for the Small Business Bonus Scheme to remain in place. It’s the most generous business rates relief package in the UK, with small businesses saving an average of £1,700 a year.

  • In 2014 we won an extension to the business rate relief package, which will benefit 4,000 premises and place a cap on poundage rates. As a result, more than half of FSB members pay no rates at all.

  • In 2015 we continued lobbying for the retention of the Small Business Bonus and, as a consequence, the First Minister confirmed that it will be in place until 2020.

Visit Scotland section

FSB Business Banking

FSB members are entitled to a specially tailored bank account from the Co-operative Bank, giving you the freedom to focus on running your business.

Find out more

Related news

Realated Links

Visit the LGA website