What is a Business improvement District?
About the St Ives Business Improvement District.
A Business Improvement District (BID) scheme is a business-led initiative supported by government legislation which gives local businesses the power to ‘raise funds locally to be spent locally’ on improving their trading environment.
The process of developing a BID involves extensive consultation with businesses to establish what improvements they want and maybe prepared to pay for – this proposal includes details of the consultation process carried out during 2013 with St Ives Businesses.
The BID programme is primarily funded by the private sector although any non-domestic ratepayer will be eligible to pay including organisations in the public or voluntary sector that have premises within a defined boundary. The fairest way for this to happen is through a levy non-domestic rates. The St Ives BID steering group has decided on a levy rate of 2% of a premise’s rateable value. Relative to other BID’s in the UK St Ives is a small town and a 2% levy is needed to create a fund substantial enough to deliver worthwhile projects each year for five years if the BID proceeds following a successful ballot.
A BID is not a new tax; it is an investment. Unlike your business rates, the money doesn’t go to central or local government. It all remains in St Ives to be spent on the things that businesses have identified as priorities.
BID’s are viewed by many businesses as a fair and affordable way of creating a ring-fencing fund that is ‘managed by the business’.
After five years businesses will have the opportunity to review how the BID has performed. They will then decide, through a renewal ballot based on a new proposal, whether the BID will continue for a second five year term.
Isn’t this what I pay my business rates for?
No! The BID levy will not pay for anything already covered by your business rates; a BID supports additional activity. The funds collected through the BID levy will be kept in a separate BID bank account held by a private sector non-for-profit company limited by guarantee, totally independent from local authorities. The income from the levy and from extra funds attracted, referred to as additional or voluntary contributions, will only be used to fund the projects you have chosen.
The baseline level of services provided by the public sector are published and your BID investment will not pay for these services. Indeed, part of the role of St Ives BID will be to provide clarity on the services and standards you can expect in return for your business rates and to ensure that businesses get those services effectively and efficiently delivered throughout the lifetime of the BID. For example, the BID will ensure that the councils maintain toilets, services CCTV, clean streets and maintain public areas, grassland, rights of way and street lighting.
What has the St Ives BID got to do with the Council?
St Ives BID will be a business led initiative and not a Council scheme. However, in recognition of the time and resources required to develop BID schemes, Cornwall Council has supported the St Ives BID schemes, Cornwall Council has supported the St Ives BID steering group through staff time and assistance with development funding. This funding has financed, for example, the cost of producing this final proposal.
The costs incurred by the Council in developing the BID are spent and will not be recouped through the levy. The Council is also the largest levy payer in St Ives BID.
Under the BID legislation, if the BID is approved, Cornwall Council is responsible for collecting the levy and transferring this income over to the BID company at regular intervals in accordance with the BID Operating Agreement which will be signed by Cornwall Council and the St Ives BID company before the BID begins on the 1st June 2014.