A Business Improvement District, or BID, is a defined area within which the local business community work together and invest collectively in new projects and services that they have prioritised to address opportunities and problems that affect their businesses, staff and customers.
BIDs are governed by a board of directors made up of business representatives from inside the BID area. This means that businesses have a local voice – and can decide and direct what they want for their town, city or high street.
BIDs are business-led and business-funded partnerships, so it is vitally important we assess the views of as many businesses as possible. Any BID is subject to a vote of all eligible businesses within the area so over last few months, we have been carrying out extensive consultations with businesses in Slough to ensure that a BID Business Plan meets the needs of businesses across the town.
There are more than 300 BIDs operating across the UK, mainly in town or city centres. There are some in industrial areas, and others which cover mixed business areas. Benefits they bring include:
- BID levy money is ring-fenced for use only in the BID area. Businesses decide and direct what they want for the area
- A BID manager is appointed to engage and promote business needs, including event management and co-ordination to attract visitors to the area
- Business cost reduction, as well as reduced crime and joint procurement initiatives
- Help in dealing with Local Council, the police and other public bodies
- Increased footfall and improvements in staff retention
- Promotion and branding of the area to attract new customers
- Facilitated networking opportunities with the area and neighbouring businesses
Every penny raised would be accounted for and spent on helping the BID to deliver the projects the businesses have voted to support. Clear commitments are made and targets set to deliver businesses priorities for the district.
The BID in Slough will raise approximately £400,000 per year from a 1.25% levy on the business rates of every eligable business in the BID area. The BID will focus on the following projects:
Safe and Secure
Helping to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
An example is to provide a security team for Slough Town centre, specifically focused on helping the business community by enforcing the restrictions on street drinking etc., and providing a deterrent.
Creating a clean and pleasant environment. Everything clean, everything working.
An example is to assess the street signs to ensure people can find their way to, and around the town centre.
Marketing and events
Promoting Slough as a welcoming, vibrant town centre with events for everyone.
Examples would be giving grant funding for events, and paying for advertising in local press.
Training and networking opportunities, cost reduction through joint procurement and customer loyalty schemes.
An example would be a cost reduction scheme for your utilities and other bills.
Being your voice, representing business interests and working with other organisations to get the best for the town centre.
For a full breakdown of projects and budget, please see the BID Business Plan in the “Business Plan and Ballot” page.
A BID is funded by businesses paying a small proportion of their business Rateable Value towards the BID. This money is ring-fenced for use only in the BID area, unlike Business Rates which go to and are re-distributed by Government nationally. A BID can only be formed after extensive consultation and a ballot of businesses on a detailed Business Plan.
In Slough, businesses will contribute a 1.25% levy on their rateable value, which will raise a total levy, over five years, of £2.15 million.
For the full rules on eligibility, and the breakdown of budgets and projects, please see the BID Business Plan.
If the business community votes for a BID to be implemented in Slough, all eligible businesses in that area will pay the set levy amount of 1.25% of the rateable value of the business propoerty, or hereditament. This is fairly typical compared to other BIDs nationally. So if the rateable value of a business is £20,000, the levy amount would be £250 per year. Within these parameters, the Slough BID can look to generate approximately £400,00 per year from the levy.
The BID levy cannot be used to replace existing Slough Borough Council services. Everything that the BID Company delivers will be new or additional work. This is carefully controlled through a legally-binding Baseline Services Agreement that sets out what the Council will deliver.
You can see the baseline agreements on the “Business Plan and Ballot” page.
Most businesses recognise they have limited control over how they can improve their business and the trading environment of the area, such as the customer experience in Slough, parking issues, management of the street, vacant shops, perception of crime and a lack of promotional opportunities in the area. A BID company would provide control and a financial mechanism to allow the business community to improve their area.
Most businesses in Slough will pay less than a pound a day on the BID levy. This is not enough individually to make a big difference to external issues that effect the town centre, but collectively, with business focus and control, it amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds, and a unified, accountable, elected voice for the interests of Slough businesses.
This varies by BID area. In principle, any business with a rateable value that is situated inside of the BID area could be liable to pay the BID levy.
In Slough, businesses with a rateable value less than £10,000 will be exempt, and no single hereditament will be liable for more than £15,000. For the full rules and exemptions please see the BID Business Plan.
The maximum term for any BID is five years, at the end of which the BID Company would seek a further five-year term via a renewal ballot. Nationally most BIDs are renewed at the end of their current term, with some BIDs now entering fourth terms of operation.
If successful at at the ballot, the Slough BID will commence on 1st April 2020 and operate until 31st March 2025.