November's Insight from Chris Turner


This has been a very busy four weeks for ballots, with 15 successful BIDs since the last Insight in October. Congratulations go to Angel BID, Love Loughborough, Wight BID, Vauxhall One, Retail BID Birmingham, Wakefield BID, Sutton Coldfield BID, Croydon Town Centre BID, Love Wimbledon, Peterborough BID, Stockport BID, Melton BID, GO! Southampton, Discover King's Lynn and Positively Putney on their successful ballot results. There are currently a further twelve BIDs in ballot, two of which are developing BIDs, and these can be seen in our weekly Ballot Watch. Please get in touch to sign up. 

One strand of our National BIDs Conference at the beginning of the month was sustainability and planetary health. All the feedback we are getting from national players is that stakeholders are increasingly informing their decisions based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials. They believe that consumers are choosing brands for their ethical behaviour and their record on climate change, resulting in investors favouring businesses with robust ESG frameworks. Governments are also implementing regulations requiring organisations to increase transparency in areas such as diversity, equal pay, carbon emissions and the like. Companies such as KPMG and Savills believe that sustainable growth is a key factor in building a successful business. We are therefore integrating some of this thinking into our work with BIDs and BID development. 

The pandemic caused much distress on commercial leases and rents, resulting in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy introducing the Commercial Rents (Coronavirus) Bill to resolve the remaining commercial rent debts accrued due to the pandemic. Alongside this, the newly titled Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published an updated Code of Practice for commercial landlords and tenants. The Government is protecting commercial tenants from debt claims, including County Court Judgements (CCJs), High Court Judgements (HCJs) and bankruptcy petitions, issued against them in relation to rent arrears accrued during the pandemic. Commercial tenants will continue to be protected from eviction by the Government’s moratorium, which was extended to 25 March 2022. This provides time for landlords and tenants to negotiate over outstanding arrears that have built up during the pandemic. The full details are here.

One key event at the end of last month was Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget on October 27. We were clearly hoping for much and got something but not everything. The big headline was that retail, hospitality and leisure sectors got a 50% business rates discount for the next year. However, this is temporary, and is not the fundamental review we and our levy payers hoped for. We are still waiting to see what happens on the outdated tax in the long term. We will continue to lobby on behalf of our businesses and stakeholders. Chancellor Sunak confirmed that business rates will be retained but reformed, and we are still waiting on the finer details. BIDs on the ground have repeatedly mentioned they wanted to see more of an emphasis on skills, we’d mentioned this in our pre-Budget letter to the Chancellor, and we were pleased to hear about the £3.8 billion increase in spending on T-Levels, skills bootcamps and apprenticeships. Along with the £4.8 billion in new grant money for local authorities and £1.7 billion in the first round of Levelling Up Funding, our industry and our partners have things to feel optimistic about in the short term. 

It appears that more than 400,000 businesses may be stuck in the business rates appeal system waiting for COVID-19 reliefs. Apparently, since the start of the first lockdown, 446,620 checks have been registered by businesses against their business rates bills and none of the £1.5bn business rates relief fund - which was announced after concerns over the number of appeals being lodged by businesses - has yet to be paid out. This will clearly be affecting our levy payers, but of course may well affect our budgets as these rate reviews impact on our BID levy income. Find more information here.

Many of us in the BID community are interested in the activities at the new Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which is undergoing a wide-scale review of its programmes. The new local government secretary Michael Gove has apparently been poring over the work of the department since being appointed in the reshuffle and DLUHC officials have reported increased pressure on them as Mr Gove demands evidence on the effectiveness of programmes and combs through the work of the department. A source with knowledge of the work of the department said: ‘If it doesn’t contribute to levelling up it’s going to be got rid of or reshaped so that it does. There’s a lot up in the air for the department at the moment’. Other sources with insight into the way Mr Gove has been operating have suggested that his department could now act as a counterweight to the Treasury. The levelling up White Paper, which had been expected to be published alongside this week’s Spending Review, has been pushed back at least a couple of weeks as Mr Gove and former bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane – who was appointed last month to head up a new taskforce – scrutinise its contents. Further details are here.

The British BIDs Academy has new dates for 2022, which are now available to book. Staying up to date with training to help better understand and adapt to the latest challenges and scenarios of running a BID is hugely valuable. All of our courses are brought to you by expert professionals in their field and cover multiple topics. Our training courses are currently held online via Zoom, but we are now further planning and propose that all our courses will be available in two modes during the year, online Zoom and in real time. This includes our Certificate in BID Management, with our first class taking place virtually and our second class in person. Plus the Diploma in BID Leadership, which will be happening in person. Further details as ever are here https://britishbids.info/services.


Professor Christopher Turner, Chief Executive, British BIDs

 

 

 

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