March's Insight from Chris Turner


This has been one of the most dramatic few weeks for businesses in many people’s memories, and there is a growing sense we will remain like this until the Autumn.

So, this Insight for March attempts to bring together some of the issues we are all facing.

COVID-19, and the Government's response to it, is traumatising the retail, food and drink and entertainment industries as we speak. Reduced footfall, closed shops, theatres, pubs, bars and restaurants are pushing many small businesses to the wall. The British BIDs (Bb) advice note on how to handle the range of COVID-19 issues brings together as much of the advice as possible and is available here.

The Government has moved swiftly with a financial package of £330bn, which increased the business rates retail relief in England to 100% as a one-year holiday, extended the relief to the leisure and hospitality sectors in response to COVID-19, and then ensured that the smaller businesses in that sector who don't have insurance will receive cash grants of £25,000 per business "to help bridge through this period". There is also a one-off grant of £10,000 to businesses currently eligible for Small Business Rates Relief, to help meet their ongoing business costs, and a new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will launch in a matter of weeks to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The Scheme will support loans of up to £1.2 million in value. This new guarantee will initially support up to £1 billion of lending on top of current support offered through the British Business Bank. We believe BIDs are eligible for this loan package and we have asked the MHCLG to confirm this.

There is a key role for BIDs here, as some of those businesses eligible for these newly expanded discounts, loans and grants may need to apply to their Local Authority, and it will be important for BIDs to check with their local taxation departments on precisely how their levy payers can ensure the benefits.

Although the business rates holiday was a vital benefit for our levy payers, it raises an issue for BIDs, whose levy payers may now only be paying their BID levies but not business rates. Those going to ballot this year will be forced to explain the added benefits of a BID, and there is already pressure on some existing BIDs to change their thresholds or collection rules. However, the regulations are clear: the local authority has to collect the levy that was voted on and pass the money to the BID. There would be a possibility for an individual BID to allocate money to alleviation projects - in the way that we put money into independent projects, but only if your business plan allowed such an activity and you had a variation process identified - which most of us have. Alternatively, BID levy holidays could be offered, but would need to be supported and funded by grants from either the Local Authority or the new loan fund.

At the same time, the risk of COVID–19 for those BIDs going to ballot will be low turnouts because of ballot papers sitting in offices as staff work from home, and antagonistic levy payers who, despite needing the very things that BIDs provide: safe and secure towns, attractive towns, recreational towns and sustainable towns, may be led by their desperate short term cash flow problems.

As part of this perfect storm, 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. Feedback from at least one Local Authority is that there is uncertainty about whether the new regulations will have any impact on BID ballots. Bb has already written to the MHCLG on this to find an answer.

Bringing the two issues of an appalling business environment in which to arrange a ballot, and uncertainty over whether the new electoral rules will affect BIDs or not, Bb is asking Government to allow BIDs the opportunity to extend their term for a further year. This costs nothing, takes the pressure off BIDs, and fits in with what they have already done for Local Authorities. It is clear, simple and affordable. If allied to access to the proposed grant fund it would allow BID bodies to give levy payment holidays to their levy payers.

The budget also included an increase in the National Living Wage of 6.2% (£8.21 per hour) with a target of £10.50 per hour by 2024; this will most certainly affect many of our independent businesses.

The fundamental review of business rates this summer was a further key outcome of the budget, read more here. The three objectives will be to reduce the overall burden on businesses, improve the current business rates system, and consider more fundamental changes in the medium-to-long term.

Bb have been pushing on this issue for well over a year, with a presentation to the Treasury Select committee and representations to the Chancellor before the budget. And whilst we are keen that the review takes place, there are major concerns that the review will not look holistically at the totality of tax on business, and the relationship between business rates and residential council taxes, which are absurdly out of date.

The review will publish a call for evidence in Spring 2020 and will report by Autumn 2020.

The budget also allocated £643 million to address rough sleeping including funding for new accommodation, substance misuse recovery and support services. We know that many BIDs are getting more involved in these issues and full details are here. This ties in with a range of interesting BID projects on begging and rough sleeping in cities like Bristol, Bath and Nottingham, as well as HSBC who are working with charities in the UK to help homeless people who do not have fixed addresses to open bank accounts, which can be managed in branches or online. Details are available here for those who want to progress this.

The Government has increased the fixed penalties available for councils to enforce against littering offences to up to £150; extended powers to the whole of England to issue civil penalties to the keeper of a vehicle from which litter is thrown; and recently published improved guidance to councils and others on the use of these powers. This Spring, they will be publishing guidance to help Local Authorities and Business Improvement Districts plan the most effective bin provision for their local area, making it easier for people to do the right thing and dispose of their waste correctly. This will be supported by a £2 million capital grants scheme later in the year, to assist with the purchase of new ‘binfrastructure’. Full details are here.

The Association of Convenience Stores Crime Report 2020 found that retail crime has a huge economic impact on local shops, costing £211 million, but also a direct impact on people working in shops from violence and verbal abuse. The report estimates there were over 50,000 incidents of violence and threats and 83% of store colleagues experienced verbal abuse. The majority (77%) of shop thefts that take place in their store are committed by repeat offenders, with 52% of these motivated by a drug or alcohol addiction. Those BIDs, some 81%, who are closely involved in Crime Reduction Partnerships are clearly already helping greatly here.

Nonetheless, there have been some excellent ballot outcomes in the past four weeks, and we congratulate Plymouth City Centre, Victoria, Bee Midtown - Holborn, Bloomsbury, St Giles, Bee Midtown - Farringdon & Clerkenwell, Carmarthen and Aberdare on their successful outcomes. Brecon was sadly not successful.

As ever British BIDs is available for help and advice, please get in touch with contact@britishbids.info or chris.turner@britishbids.info.


Professor Christopher Turner, Chief Executive, British BIDs


Latest Articles

BIDlife - Send us your reopening photos

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

April's Insight from Chris Turner - 2021

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

The Big Heart of Merthyr Tydfil BID and Northfield BID achieve Accreditation

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Maybe* - 7 ways to reconnect with your BID levy payers and their customers

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

March’s ballot results – a congratulations from British BIDs

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Ballot Buddy helps achieve a new term for Sheffield BID

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs meets with UK's largest national chains

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

March's Insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Retail repositioning continues

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Colour and animation for magical lights this Christmas - GALA LIGHTS

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

The recovery Budget delivered, where now for our towns and cities?

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

£1bn Towns Fund for 45 areas in England announced

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

February ballot results – a congratulations from the British BIDs team

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

February's Insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Letter on proposed new Permitted Development Rights

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Watford BID overcoming the challenges to secure a ‘YES’ vote

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

BID ballots during lockdown

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Business Interruption Policy Checker, Christmas Support Payments and Lockdown Guidance and elections

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

The headlines are gloomy, but our future evolved local high street looks exciting

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

As we lose a retail icon, we must embrace the change

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

January's Insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Digital trends in 2021

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs and Industrial BIDs discuss crime prevention

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Government names 72 high streets in England to share £831m recovery fund

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

A look back on 2020 BID ballots

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

December's insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

#BIDlife - putting the spotlight on our towns and cities!

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

How can and should BIDs be more community focused?

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Christmas lights provide feel-good factor in challenging times

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Welsh guidance about the coronavirus rules that will be in place from 6pm Friday 4 December

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Repurposing our places for the future

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Arcadia Group – Guidance for BIDs, 1 December 2020

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Calling on the Government to do more to support Retail, Hospitality and Leisure

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Increase your footfall over the festive period - Blachere Illumination

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

The shop local and loyal revolution from Scottish fintech Miconex with Town and City Gift Cards and Mi Rewards

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

November's insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

LoyalFree: The high street app helping businesses trade through the lockdown

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

BID community prepares for second lockdown

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Job Support Scheme expanded to firms required to close due to Covid Restrictions

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - 1st November 2020

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs congratulates confirmed areas to receive new Town Deals Fund

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Paul Clement steps down from British BIDs after long-standing service

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

October's Insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs congratulates Melanie Beck on being awarded MBE for ‘Services to the Community’ during Covid-19

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

BIDs in the news

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs and Industrial BIDs share best practice

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

September's Insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs requests extension of 'Eat out To Help Out' Scheme

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

​Bb requests further BID term extension from MHCLG

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Bb to launch new research entitled 'Shaping the Future'

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Your Pontypridd Receives Accreditation

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

August's insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Levy reduction letter from BIDs - download the template

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Local lockdowns and areas of interventions: how to prepare

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs' response on levy payments

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs supports Business Resilience Survey

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Get involved in our response to Government

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Preparing for localised lockdown webinar follow up

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Look back on lockdown - BIDs (part 2)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

July's insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Webinar with high street expert Bill Grimsey

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Ruth Duston joins British BIDs Advisory Board

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Towns Fund – updated guidance

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Look back on lockdown - BIDs

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

June's Insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

From BBC news, to virtual meetings & training, we reflect on the past 3 months

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

BBC News Channel - Professor Christopher Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Industrial and Business Park BIDs share good practice with virtual networking sessions

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

New research on BIDs and the 'new normal'

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Important announcement: MHCLG BID Loan Fund

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Ed Cooke joins British BIDs Advisory Board

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

THAT WAS THE BB WEEK THAT WAS #9 (W/C 18TH MAY)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

THAT WAS THE BB WEEK THAT WAS #8 (W/C 11TH MAY)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

3R Toolkit; Driving recovery in your place

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

THAT WAS THE BB WEEK THAT WAS #7 (W/C 4TH MAY)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

BIDs Advisory Board welcome Resilience Fund

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

THAT WAS THE BB WEEK THAT WAS #6 (W/C 27TH APRIL)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs announces new research into the recovery of BIDs and urban centres in the ‘new normal’

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs Announces BIDs Resilience Fund

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Government lobbying for BID levy relief during COVID-19

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

THAT WAS THE BB WEEK THAT WAS #5 (W/C 20TH APRIL)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

New measures to protect UK high street from aggressive rent collection and closure

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs expands Ballot Buddy portfolio

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Sidcup BID achieve British BIDs Accreditation

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Government Survey - your help needed by 22nd April

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

That Was The Bb Week That Was #4 (W/C 13th april)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

April's Insight from Chris Turner

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

COVID-19 - Job Retention Scheme Update

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

That Was The Bb Week That Was #3 (W/C 6th April)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

That Was The Bb Week That Was #2 (W/C 30th March)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs' Ballot Buddy helps secure a 'yes' vote for West Bromwich BID

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 and what it means for BIDs

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

That Was The Bb Week That Was #1 (w/c 23rd March)

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

BID levy payments and COVID-19

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

New Q&A sessions announced

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Communications support for BIDs

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

British BIDs Guidance - Q&A

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Business Improvement Districts and their Coronavirus Response

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020

Join our live Q&A session this Friday

POSTED ON: 19/03/2020