Reoccupation Discount

In the Autumn Statement of 6 December 2013, the Chancellor announced that, for the period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2016, businesses which move into retail properties which have been empty for a year or more will be eligible for a 50% reoccupation discount, for 18 months.

Under the scheme adopted by Bradford Council, relief of 50% is available to a person or organisation that moves into former retail premises which have been empty for 12 months or more. The relief will be available for 18 months from the date of reoccupation.

Qualifying conditions

Businesses that can benefit from the 50% relief must contribute towards the Council’s Strategic Priorities concerning the regeneration of the Districts economy, and must be occupied by an organisation that trades with, or provides a service directly to, members of the public from the property in question.

Subject to the above conditions, the new occupation of the property can be for any use except as a Betting shop, Payday loan shop or Pawnbrokers.

The property must have:

  1. been empty for 12 months or more immediately before its reoccupation, 
  2. become occupied between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016 and 
  3. been occupied wholly or mainly as a shop, restaurant, cafe or drinking establishment when last in use.

Shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments mean property that is:-

  • used for the sale of goods, food and/or drink to visiting members of the public; 
  • used for the provision of services to visiting members of the public

The term “wholly or mainly” is a test on use rather than occupation. Therefore, property that was not wholly or mainly used for the qualifying purpose will not qualify for the relief.

In granting the relief, the Council must be satisfied that by so doing it will not cause the ratepayer to exceed the EU State Aid limits (see below).

State Aid

State Aid refers to financial support from a public or publicly-funded body given to organisations, which has the potential to distort competition and affect trade between member states of the European Union. Providing discretionary relief to ratepayers might, depending on the circumstances, amount to State Aid.

State Aid is generally prohibited by European Community rules. However, there are exceptions to this, and some financial aid is allowed under the ‘de minimis’ rules if the total amount of funding received by an organisation does not exceed a prescribed limit. Currently, funding over a three year period must not cumulatively exceed €200,000.