RUNNING A business in Somerset isn’t always easy, and high business rates can make it difficult for a small firm to survive.

But if you live in Taunton Deane or West Somerset, you could be eligible for business rate relief over the next two years.

Somerset West and Taunton Council will be officially replacing Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council on April 1, before the local elections on May 2.

Ahead of the new council formally taking control, proposals have been published to harmonise the amount of rate relief which businesses can receive across the new district.

This also takes account of new retail relief measures which were announced by the government in the autumn of 2018.

A report on business rate relief came before the new council’s shadow scrutiny committee in Williton on Monday evening (February 4).

Dean Emery, the council’s principal revenues and debt recovery officer, said in his written report: “We have the discretion to discount business rate bills by one third of the daily chargeable amount in 2019/20 and in 2020/21  for retail premises with a rateable value of £51,000 or less.

“Retail premises must be occupied and wholly or mainly used to sell goods, services or food and drink to visiting members of the public.”

Here is a non-exhaustive list of businesses which may qualify for rate relief:

Retail shops (e.g. butchers, bakers, grocers, florists, greengrocers, jewellers, stationers, off-licences, chemists, newsagents and hardware stores)

Furnishing shops or display rooms (e.g. carpet shops, double glazing outlets, garage door salespeople)

Art galleries (where art is for sale or hire)

Charity shops


Car or caravan showrooms

Second-hand car lots


Petrol stations

Garden centres

Post offices

Hair and beauty outlets (including hairdressers, nail bars, beauty salons and tanning shops)

Shoe repairs or key cutting

PC, TV or domestic appliance repair shops

Ticket offices (e.g. theatre booking offices)

Dry cleaners or laundrettes

Car hire firms

Funeral directors

Travel agents

Photo processing outlets

DVD or video rentals

Tool hire shops


Coffee shops

Sandwich shops



Mr Emery said: “We will assess eligibility and calculate relief on a daily basis. We will award retail rate relief to the net business rates bill after we have applied any other relief.

“Ratepayers occupying more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties, subject to state aid limits.”

If you live in a rural part of the new district, you can claim 100 per cent relief on the following businesses (i.e. not pay any rates at all):

Post Offices (provided they have a rateable value of under £8,500)

Village stores (if under £8,500)

Filling stations (if under £12,500)

Pubs (if under £12,500)

Village halls (of any rateable value)

If your rural business has a rateable value of under £16,500, you can still apply to the council for a discount of up to 80 per cent.

Councillor Roger Ryan said: “It is good to see post offices getting 100 per cent rate relief.

“The post office in my ward has been empty for a long time, and it will serve as a good incentive to someone wanting to take it over.”

The council intends to continue its policy of providing rent relief to local newspapers which are based in the two existing districts.

The following types of business will not be eligible for any form of retail business rate relief:

Financial services (e.g. banks, building societies, cash-points, bureaux de change, payday lenders, betting shops and pawn brokers)

Estate agents, letting agents or employment agencies

Medical services (e.g. vets, dentists, doctors, osteopaths and chiropractors)

Post Office sorting offices

Professional services (e.g. solicitors, accountants, insurance agents, financial advisers and private tutors)

The committee voted unanimously to approve the proposals, which will come before the shadow full council for final approval on February 21.