That is correct, it was announced earlier this year that Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) would be temporarily extended to help small businesses. The relief available will depend on whether the premises are in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
The qualifying requirements have remained unchanged and most businesses in England will qualify if they occupy only one property and the rateable value is less than £18,000 (£25,500 for London). Rates are charged at a reduced amount depending on the value of the property (there are three different reduced rate bands) and then further relief is given at 50% for properties with a value of less than £6,000 and at 25% with a value of less than £12,000.
The new increased rates come into effect on 1 October this year and will apply until 30 September 2011. For premises in England the enhanced relief will mean that businesses operating from qualifying premises with a rateable value of up to £6,000 will get 100% relief. Where the rateable value is between £6,001 and £12,000 the rate of the enhanced relief is tapered from 100% to zero. Your local authority should issue a revised bill to you showing the increased relief now due.
In previous years, SBRR had to applied for at the start of each valuation period, but that process has now ceased and if SBRR has been claimed in the previous year, it will automatically be applied for future years.
There are other reliefs available for community amateur sports clubs of up to 80% and various non-profit making organisations could qualify for up to 100% relief. It is also worth noting that there are special reliefs available for certain rural businesses and hardship relief may be available for certain businesses who have dificulty in paying.