Business Improvement Districts

Business Improvement Districts are not-for-profit partnerships, in which the local businesses have voted to invest together to improve the environment of their local area. A BID is brought in through a democratic ballot process and the services provided are additional to those delivered by the statutory authorities.

There are over 300 BIDs in the UK, and growing, suggesting an increasing benefit to the local business communities where BIDs are operating. The total annual BID levy currently raised across the UK is c£110m which leverages around £175m when including investment raised from local economic partnerships and commercial activity. The typical number of businesses within a BID is 200–400.

The overall success rate for BID ballots since their inception in 2005 is over 95%.

A BID seeks to provide greater strategic context for business to galvanize the business community, statutory authorities and wider stakeholders behind a common vision for the district and generate an enhanced income stream which benefits the whole area in terms of service provision. A BID provides the business community with a united voice and the ability to influence and shape the future. It acts as a catalyst to promote wider public and private investment into projects which enhance the neighbourhood.

Why do businesses support BIDs?

  • Return on investment
  • A better operating environment for business
  • A focus on increasing footfall and dwell time, providing more customers for local businesses
  • More effectively managed and more sustainable
  • Promoting destination of choice for visitors, businesses and residents alike
  • Effective engagement through a single voice with the wider community

A successful BID has to have 'buy-in' from the majority of those businesses who will finance it – both for a successful vote and also to ensure the partnership evolves in a positive environment.

Governed by Government legislation and regulations, BIDs are statutorily established once voted for by the majority of businesses in an area and have a maximum term of five years before returning to their electorate for renewal. Once a majority vote has been achieved, a BID levy becomes mandatory on all defined ratepayers.

For a BID to be introduced, the ballot of business must meet two conditions: a majority in number of those voting and a majority in proportion of rateable value of those voting. The BID levy is then applicable to all eligible businesses.

The BID ballot is administered by the Council Returning Officer and their electoral services staff. It is arranged in line with rules set out in the BID regulations (2004) as approved by Parliament.

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