Government's 'freeport' sites to offer SDLT and Business Rates relief for residing businesses

Helen Marsh
Helen Marsh

Published: March 30th, 2021

7 min read


One of the key announcements made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, during his 2021 Budget speech was the introduction of eight new freeports in England. A wide package of reliefs will benefit freeports, including some aimed at reducing the cost of investing in land buildings in the freeport sites by offering businesses residing within the selected areas reliefs on tax payments and business rates, thereby encouraging regeneration of these areas.

The locations of these freeports will be:

  • East Midlands Airport;
  • Felixstowe and Harwich;
  • Humber region;
  • Liverpool City region;
  • Plymouth;
  • Solent;
  • Thames; and
  • Teesside.

Relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax ('SDLT')

As part of the freeports scheme, businesses purchasing land and buildings within a freeport tax site will be able to claim an associated SDLT relief when submitting their return to HMRC. The relief will be available from the date of designation of the freeport site, on transactions completing on or before 30 September 2026, and the latest date that a claim may be made is 14 October 2027.

There will be a requirement for the land or buildings be used in a 'qualifying manner'. Whilst we await further guidance from the Government on what is meant by 'qualifying manner', it is anticipated that it will have be utilised for a commercial purpose. There will be 'clawback' provisions to disapply the relief where the land or buildings are not used in a qualifying manner for a 'control period' of up to three years.

The Finance Bill 2021 will provide us with more detail as to how the SDLT relief applies.

Business Rates Relief

It was also announced that up to 100% business rates relief will be made available on certain businesses premises in the freeport sites, intended to be available from 1 October 2021 until 30 September 2026.

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