September's Insight from Chris Turner


The BID industry continues to work hard to keep our towns and cities safe and prospering, and the Twitter community has pretty much every BID talking about and celebrating their projects and deeds. We have 2672 followers for Bb, and they provide an excellent microcosm of our industry. Ranging from BIDs such as New West End with their West End Resilience Live on up-skilling and re-skilling, to smaller BIDS like Halesowen working with the police on closing down a ‘party house’. All providing great stories of BIDs doing their stuff well.

Bb has submitted two major consultation documents, with help from BIDs across the country.

1. Our response to the House of Commons BEIS Select committee on the Post Pandemic Industrial Strategy is available here.

2. The Bb Advisory Board, following input from a range of BIDs, spent much time on the Bb response to the Housing Community and Local Government Select committee enquiry on Supporting the high street after Covid-19. Again, our final version is available here.

Two key requests were, firstly, second term BIDs and beyond to be given the ability to ‘renew’ for longer than 5-years where more strategic business plan proposals require longer to be effected, and secondly, for property owner BIDs to be permitted countrywide,  so that owners and occupiers can jointly invest in improvements that are required. We believe that BID terms for up to 10-years and the inclusion of property owners would provide a unique mechanism to enable the types of improvements and the changes required. I am clearly more than happy to take questions and comments and will of course feedback all the responses from the two select committees when we hear.

We have also been spending much time, with help from BIDs and our Advisory Board, on our response to the Treasury review of Business Rates. This is a key issue for most of us. Our view is that businesses are currently liable for Corporation Tax, National Insurance, Value Added Tax, and Business Rates. We propose that a Sales Tax, which would include an On-line sales tax,  and a Capital Value tax be added to this portfolio, and that the Treasury explore an approach based on a portfolio of business taxes, allowing every business to contribute their government tax ‘give’ in a way that reflects the way that they do their business in any given year. The current business rates relief ‘holiday’ for some, but not all, businesses during the Covid-19 crisis has of course been a life saver for many businesses during the current pandemic and must remain in place until the outcomes of this Treasury review are affected. We are also asking that in addition to supporting the hospitality, leisure and retail sector, the government should reconsider the line between those sectors receiving support and those not.

On a more specific matter, we have also been speaking to MHCLG on the possibility of extending BID terms because of the stacking up of ballots in the spring, following the Coronavirus 2020 Act. They are aware of the issues and we agree to keep them informed of problems as they develop; so for those BIDs facing major concerns, do please let me know and we will raise them with ministerial team.

Our list of BIDs going to ballot between now and March, as published each week in Ballot Watch, has 21 confirmed ballot dates, and we know that there are more that are still unconfirmed. We do understand that this will put pressure on our national levy payer voters, so we are all having to work hard on explaining BID services to our nationals.

Having spoken to the MHCLG team, we believe the final funding allocations of 5% of annual levy income to all English BIDs, as part of the operational support fund, is now completed, All English BIDs received funding, which had to be applied for by local authorities. This took some time to get organised, as some staff from local authorities were working from home, or were not always aware of the urgency.

We have a new Minister. Kelly Tolhurst was appointed as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government and Homelessness at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on September 8th. She is MP for Rochester and Strood and has a great deal of business experience. She has served on the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, was appointed to the Department for Transport, and now joins MHCLG. Her full details are here. We will be writing to her in the next few days outlining the key BID challenges and inviting her to meet the Advisory Board and visit some BIDs.

The interest in cities after Covid-19 is burgeoning around the world. The BBC Rethink on Cities, with Amol Rajan, is excellent.  Doncaster, Cambridge, São Paulo, Beijing, Kampala and Copenhagen are all brought together! The catchup recording is on BBC Sounds and available here and is absolutely worth a listen.

Next week the current Certificate in BID Management students present their final projects. They cover topics from the new normal to working from home, and, as ever, the projects show some really useful deep analysis. We are starting our new Diploma in BID Leadership  on October 5th and there are some places still available, if you can email Ben.collins@britishbids.info. Leadership is different from management. Leadership is about doing the right things right. It’s about setting directions, building visions, and making something new. It's about taking a group of people on a journey and mapping out what an organisation needs to do to succeed. At its best it is creative, inspiring, motivating and exciting. Do come and join us if you are able and email me if you want more background chris.turner@britishbids.info.

 

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