January's Insight from Chris Turner


Insight January 2022

This is the first Insight for 2022 and I wish you a very happy New Year. The Prime Minister has now announced the withdrawal of Plan B lockdown rules and we do seem to be looking to a 2022 that might see the beginning of a post-pandemic world

There have not been any new BID ballots since the Insight in December but there are ten ballots in February, of which 2 are new developing BIDs. It is pleasing to see that during last year we saw 12 new BIDs come into being, and there are currently 46 BIDs in the development stage, with others on hold until the pandemic is over. As ever we continue to report on the BID industry; its size, numbers and developments and the annual survey for last year is available here.

During the Omicron surge over the Christmas golden quarter, BIDs continued to provide services to our levy payers, particularly focusing on grants to businesses in our areas, as well as safety, security and confidence-boosting amongst shoppers and clients in our communities. The additional grant funding information is available here.

It is very clear that the pandemic has slowed down the work of government and has put on hold many critical developmental activities that we have been waiting for news of.

Nonetheless, we hope that some clarity is emerging, and on the matter of Levelling Up the White Paper from Secretary of State Gove should be available soon, more info can be found here. There is much gossip and hearsay out in the industry about the content of that report and the financial settlement for local authorities was better than some had feared. There is some analysis of the potential winners and losers in the Levelling Up, which suggests that of England’s largest cities and towns, Bradford, Wolverhampton and Coventry offer the greatest opportunities to level up.  The research by the zero-carbon house builder Etopia Homes pinpoints the towns and cities in England which could make best use of the Government’s Levelling Up funds. They use a Levelling Up Opportunity Index which compares the performance of the 34 largest towns and cities outside of London to identify places which might have traditionally underperformed economically up to now, but which have the size and capacity for substantial future growth.‍ It is believed the White Paper is set to focus on improving living standards, growing the private sector and increasing and spreading opportunity.‍ Rather than simply consider traditional deprivation indicators – which might measure need, but give a limited sense of how a town or city is functioning economically – the Levelling Up Opportunity Index instead focuses on data around potential growth, business rates, commuting patterns and land use.

On the other hand, inflation is roaring ahead, and individual spending reductions will affect many of our levy payers and their future business plans.  The hopes we all had for Business Rates reform continue to be dashed, as the Final Report reaffirmed the importance of Business Rates and its central role in the tax system. The tax is therefore retained but will be reformed to make it “fairer and timelier”. The reforms include more frequent revaluations as well as new discounts and reliefs. Apparently, the Government estimates that the reforms represent the biggest rate cut for 30 years. We know that the Government is also weighing up the pros and cons of introducing an online sales tax (OST) and has confirmed that a separate consultation on this will be published soon. Government have also published a consultation seeking views for how a worldwide 15% minimum corporation tax should be domestically implemented, find more information here. British BIDs will clearly be responding to this and reporting back.

On a more local note, the full list of 38 places which have applied for city status as part of the 2022 Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours Competition has been announced, and this has caused much interest; the full list is here and several BIDs are involved and several got name checked as part of the announcement.

For many of us the Environmental and sustainable agenda grows apace, and it was great to see that Visit Inverness Loch Ness (VILN) has become the first carbon neutral Business Improvement District (BID) in the UK. VILN has completely offset its emissions for 2019 to 2021, making the organisation completely carbon neutral. The BID has established two corporate groves with charity Trees for Life. Trees have been planted in the grove already and the organisation will continue to plant a tree every time VILN produces a tonne of C02. These are projects that we will all be adopting over the next few years.

British BIDs are always hunting down research projects around the world that are BID related, not least to feed into our Certificate in BID Management course. Very recent work at the Institute of Retail Economics (HFI), found in Stockholm that the BID programme increased labour productivity for incumbent firms within the BID by 7.62%, mainly through an increase in revenues, and the results also suggest that fewer crimes were committed in the BIDs. For those interested in the CiBM we are running it in both real-time and online mode this year to allow as much access as possible.

BIDs are heavily involved in business crime reduction, and some 60% are funding crime reduction projects. Clearly, accreditation, information sharing, quality and standards are part of that involvement and many BIDs are members of NBCC which brings together the national retailers and their business crime concerns and provides Business Improvement Districts and Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRPs) with a powerful national data-sharing infrastructure. The National Business Crime Centre produced an excellent report on BIDs a year or so ago and they are now reviewing the National Business Crime Reduction Partnership Standards. They have been in place since 2018 so are due a refresh and we will clearly keep members informed as the review progresses.

An increased range of 23 days of BID training courses are available for online enrolment and we are offering all of our programmes both online and physically during the year. Find out more and book your place here.

We look forward to seeing many of you there during the year.

Professor Christopher Turner, Chief Executive, British BIDs

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