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Business Improvement Districts and their Coronavirus Response


COVID-19 | 25.03.2020

Last week, British BIDs wrote to the Secretary of State regarding ballot extensions and levy relief.

Today we wrote to key ministers with an urgent ask on behalf of the BID industry for the Government to consider levy relief, and the payment of these levies directly to BIDs, as it responds to Coronavirus in the coming days.

The letter can be read here

We face an urgent threat. Levy payers in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries are responding to Government instructions and temporarily shutting up shop. They have also been allowed business rates relief for the year under the Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response. This has given these BID levy payers a conundrum; they are not being billed for their business rates, but they are still being billed for their BID levy. They are already signalling that they cannot pay, and many BIDs will not survive the lack of levy money if these funds are not received.

We urge all BIDs to contact their MP asking them to liaise with the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to support our request.


**IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR BIDS** COVID-19 | 24.03.2020

Following our recent announcement regarding ballot extensions, we have now received confirmation from the Government that the following is to be included in the draft COVID-19 Bill:

“All BIDs in England and Northern Ireland intending to go to ballot this year, will be granted an extension to March 2021, allowing BIDs one year from now to undertake their ballots”.

This is contrary to the information we received and issued yesterday.

British BIDs is tremendously disappointed to learn that our request for BIDs in the final year of their term be granted an extension of one year has not be accepted. In effect, for the majority of BIDs facing the prospects of a ballot this year, the short extension proposed achieves little.

Our second request of government relating to a waiver of BID levy payments for those in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors remains under formal consideration. If anything, this request is now more important given the Prime Minister‘s announcements over the past few days and will provide a life-line for the large number of BIDs facing inevitable financial insecurity without emergency assistance. 

We would now ask ALL BIDs to contact their MP asking them to liaise with the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to support our request. Rethinking the ballot announcement and securing the levy waiver are vital to the future of numerous BIDs, each of which will be crucial in the process of recovery after this virus has passed.

We will keep BIDs updated as matters progress and thank you for your support.

DOWNLOAD THE LETTER HERE


COVID-19 | 20.03.2020

Today, we held four successful live Q&A sessions with 40 BIDs across the UK. During these sessions we answered several questions about concerns and what the current Coronavirus crisis means for the BID industry. 

BIDs play an extremely important role in keeping towns, cities and areas safe, secure, clean, attractive and much more and will be vital as part of the revival process once Coronavirus has lessened.

British BIDs (Bb) and the BIDs in England all want certainty from the government, and so below is a letter which we all support, written by Bb Chief Executive, Christopher Turner, to the Secretary of State.

The support on this from BIDs is essential, and we strongly encourage all BIDs to send the below letter to their local MP to show your support. 

DOWNLOAD THE LETTER HERE


Dear Secretary of State, 

Business Improvement Districts and their Coronavirus 

Business Improvement Districts [BIDs] provide a wide range of essential services across hundreds of business communities, not least safety and security, marketing and promotion, clean and attractive space and a whole range of business support services. We are currently providing a watchful eye on the increasing number of locked down shops on our high streets and supporting those staff who are coming in to provide essential services. 

There are currently 259 BIDs in England, with 100,841 business investing £106,770,198 in their business communities. 

We particularly believe that BIDs will be vital as part of the revival process once the COVID19 virus has lessened and the business community starts its recovery phase. BIDs are a key lever of fast change and support for government; they are business led and work closely with their levy payers. They get the job done. 

They are facing two particular crises because of the Coronavirus. 

Firstly, levy payers in the retail, hospitality and leisure industries are responding to government advice and temporarily shutting up shop. They have also been allowed business rates relief for the year under your Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response. This has given these BID levy payers a conundrum; they are not being billed for their business rates, but they are still being billed for their BID levy. They are already signalling that they will not pay, and many BIDs will not survive the lack of levy money. 

We therefore ask that appropriate Business Improvement Districts levy payers be allowed 100% levy relief to mirror the one-year business rates holiday that government has enabled. We believe BIDs could be included in your Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local Authority Guidance and allow you to reimburse local authorities that use their discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (as amended), to grant relief. 

It will be for individual local billing authorities to adopt a local scheme and determine in each individual case when to grant relief under section 47. Central government will fully reimburse local authorities for the local share of the discretionary relief. 

Secondly, the Local, Mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections that were due to take place in May this year have been postponed until May 2021. It is unclear whether the quinquennial BID ballots are covered by the legislation, but we understand that the advice notes imply that they do. Some 70 BIDs are due to hold their ballots this year to continue in existence under the BID Regulations (2004), which have a maximum five-year term. They will be forced to close if they cannot ballot, or their terms are not extended. 

We therefore ask that relevant BIDs could have their terms extended by one year, to mirror the extension government has enabled for local elections. 

British BIDs is the trade body for all 326 BIDs in the British Isles, and has an Advisory Board of fourteen, representing BIDs across the country and the national levy payers. We have consulted with both the membership and the Advisory Board. 

Yours sincerely

Professor Christopher Turner
Chief Executive
British BIDs

DOWNLOAD THE LETTER HERE

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