These are the questions that you have asked us about the BID. We will update this list as you ask more questions.
1: What is a BID?
‘BID’ stands for ‘Business Improvement District’. It is a defined commercial area where new funding can be raised through a ‘levy’ on all businesses within that area, to invest in initiatives to improve the local trading environment. BIDs enter into baseline agreements with the local authority and other service providers which guarantee the level of service provision in the area. These ensure that any services the BID provides are truly additional.
2: How does a BID happen?
A BID can only be formed following consultation and a ballot in which businesses vote on a BID Proposal or business plan for the area. The ballot is run by the local authority or outsourced by the local authority to a third party. All businesses eligible to pay the levy are balloted. For a BID to go ahead the ballot must be won on two counts: straight majority and majority of rateable value. This ensures that the interests of large and small businesses are protected. There is no minimum turnout threshold.
3: Am I eligible to vote?
All eligible businesses within the BID boundary with a Rateable Value exceeding £1,700 will be able to vote. And remember the BID can only go ahead if you vote YES.
4: Isn’t this what I pay my business rates for?
No. Business rates are collected by Canterbury City Council and redistributed at a national level. The council spends the allocated funding on services that are both statutory and discretionary, and businesses have very little say on what these services are. BIDs differ from this as the money is collected locally, ring-fenced and controlled and managed by you. It can only then be spent on initiatives detailed in this business plan that you have agreed to. The BID levy does not pay for anything covered by your business rates.
5: Does this mean that the local authority will stop providing services?
No. We have established a baseline service provision from the local authorities. Baseline statements have been obtained for the following areas:
BIDs can only undertake services or improvements that are additional to that which is already provided. The local authority will also contribute to the BID, as they own property in the BID area and will therefore be treated as any other levy payer.
6: How much will this cost me?
The levy is based upon 1.5 per cent of the Rateable Value of each eligible property for businesses with an RV exceeding £1,700. The levy will be collected once a year for each of the five years of the BID and will contribute to the £2.5 million in funding to be spent on the initiatives agreed by you. The table below provides a guide of what individual businesses will pay:
|Rateable Value(RV)||Annual Levy @ 1.5%||Weekly Cost||Daily Cost|
7: How will I know if it’s working?
Each year the BID will produce an annual performance report to show what the BID is delivering and the Return on Investment for levy payers.
8: Why should I vote Yes?
Voting YES to a BID in Canterbury will mean that you can expect a better marketed, maintained and managed city; you will be contributing to the £2.5 million BID Company that will work to improve Canterbury over the next five years. And the BID will only go ahead if it receives more YES votes than no votes, by number and Rateable Value.
9: And if I vote No?
NOTHING. Voting no will mean that you are saying no to additional sustainable funding to support the city. Without this investment we will not be able to offer a quality programme of initiatives, services and events, and you will lose the opportunity to make a difference to the city.
10. What are the benefits of BIDs?
Long term investment: BIDs allow businesses to influence economic change in their area by raising their own pot of money that is spent on their priorities.
Economic growth: BIDs deliver good value projects through collective procurement, promote economic growth through enhanced footfall and regional presence, establish practical links between private and public sector institutions, and attract additional inward investment.
Competitive advantage: BIDs help to establish a competitive advantage by providing an improved environment for clients and employees and better facilities for businesses.
Additional Funding: BIDs can apply for additional funding through: voluntary contributions from businesses outside the BID area; lottery funding; or grants.
Lobbying: BIDs are representative of local businesses and so they can lobby on their behalf with the local authority and other agencies to effect change.
11: How many BID areas are there in Britain?
There are over 182 formal BIDS and 61 developing BIDs in the UK. Of the 182 BIDs, 76 have had a successful first renewal and 7 have had a successful second renewal. The majority exist in town and city centres.
12: Why is Canterbury considering becoming a BID?
As a city Canterbury faces very challenging times. Our businesses operate in a very demanding environment facing competition from other towns, cities and out of town shopping centres plus additional competition from the internet and e-commerce. It is vital that Canterbury remains attractive and maintains its significant competitive regional advantage. We must make the most of the many assets we have including the diverse mix of retail, tourism, business services and commerce, local heritage and culture and the unique quality of the city and its surroundings. Now more than ever we must improve how we promote it, improve how we manage it and improve how we maintain it.
13: Why now?
Canterbury now has an opportunity to establish its own BID, giving the city the profile it deserves and the business it needs. Businesses need help to work together for the benefit of the city centre. A BID is a fair system, with every business paying a modest amount, but together those contributions creating a powerful investment. The City needs more investment not less, in the “down” times to keep the trading environment moving forward.
14: What evidence is there to suggest BIDs work?
The evidence suggests that BID schemes make positive differences for businesses’ trading no matter whether they are in cities, town centres or industrial areas. 182 BIDs have been established, providing £300million of funding for their respective towns and cities. On the ground, BIDs have led to increased footfall, higher spending and cleaner, safer and more vibrant towns and cities. But the proof of their effectiveness can be shown by the fact that after five years the majority of BIDs begin a new five year term following a renewal ballot indicating continued business support for the initiative. In terms of results for individual businesses, the levy has often been offset by the cost savings that the BID companies have negotiated on behalf of their members’ businesses.
15: What will I get back for my money?
If you vote ‘yes’ you will create an extra £2.5 million over five years, Canterbury will be better promoted, better presented and more vibrant. This will help to increase footfall, improve sales and make Canterbury a more attractive, safer and better managed city. You could also see savings to your bottom line and a much ‘higher profile’ for the city and therefore your business. A BID will also increase communication between businesses and deliver results. You will be an integral part of the cities’ success and an important voice in the process.
16: How long does a BID last?
The BID will last for five years. If it is successful, another ballot may be held towards the end of this period to decide whether the BID should continue for another five years.
17: We’re in a recession, is this a good time to ask businesses for additional financial contribution?
In a recession it’s even more important that we ensure Canterbury is promoted and that people still come and spend their money here. The alternative is to ‘do nothing’. That means that new businesses or visitors will not come to Canterbury and existing businesses may go elsewhere, seduced by other towns that are making this kind of investment. It’s also a good time to develop a BID because it provides an opportunity for businesses to work together to drive down overheads such as insurance and utility costs. CCP is currently exploring opportunities to offset the cost of your BID levy by, for example, negotiating savings on utilities.
18: What will the public sector contribute?
The public sector will pay the levy in the same way as other businesses in the BID area. Canterbury City Council have pledged their support to BIDs and to paying the levy.
19: Why do we need to market Canterbury – isn’t it already well-known?
Yes, it is well known, but visitor numbers are falling year on year. During the past three years there has been a steady decline, which will continue if we don’t do something about it. The surrounding shopping destinations including Westwood Cross, Bluewater and Hempstead Valley, are drawing shoppers away from our streets. We are in competition and we have to be able to compete on a level footing.
20: Who will run the BID?
Canterbury City Partnership CIC will deliver the BID. The CCP Memorandum and Articles of Association will be amended in the event of a successful ballot to reflect that the BID will be the sole focus of the organisation and all other CCP activity will cease.
21: Can I opt out?
No. A positive result in the ballot will mean that all eligible businesses over the threshold and within the BID boundary are required by law to pay for a 5 year period.
22: If businesses vote ‘no’, will they still have to pay?
Yes, if a majority vote in favour by number and rateable value, the levy will become mandatory. Payment of the levy carries the same enforcement as non-domestic rates.
23: I’m a small business, will I benefit as much as the larger chains?
The levy is a percentage of rateable value so generally, you will be paying a lot less than the multiples. However, the benefits will be equitable – for example the overall town marketing and promotion activities should benefit your business in particular.
24: How do you ensure the BID investment adds value?
We will enter into baseline agreements with the local authorities and other service providers. These agreements will guarantee the level of service provision in the area and show you what the councils will continue to provide. In this way you can see who does what and be confident that the BID investment is providing added value.
25: What happens if my business closes or moves during the year? Will I get a refund?
The BID Levy is based on a Chargeable Day, in our case 13th October the start of the BID year. What this means is that whoever is liable for the Business Rates on this day each year is also liable for the full BID levy, in a single payment.
This means that there are no refunds available for the balance of the year if you move out of the premises for which the levy is liable; the balance of the levy is then a matter for negotiation between you and any incoming tenant or the landlord if at the end of the tenancy.
The presence of a BID levy should arise in pre-transaction searches and questions about whether a given property is included in a BID area, and if so, the amount of levy and related matters are included in standard enquiries which are raised in every commercial property transaction.
25: Why can’t I pay in instalments, like Business Rates?
In the Proposal which businesses voted for at the BID Ballot in 2014, it set out that the levy is due as a single payment each year. The reason for this is that the cost of collection of the levy, which comes out of the levy payers’ contributions, would double if an instalment payment system was adopted and it is the view of the BID Board that this money is better used to invest in the programmes businesses want to see in the city.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents large national businesses, sets out Guidance for BIDs as their members are levy payers in numerous locations across the UK. These recommendations set a limit on the cost of collection both as a proportion of the total levy collected and also by cost per levy payer. Here is how the Canterbury Connected BID compares with the BRC Guidelines and how that would look if collection costs were doubled to take account of an instalment collection system:
|CCBID single payment||CCBID instalment||BRC Guidelines|
|Cost per levy payer||£17.63||£35.20||£35.00|
|% of total levy||2.5%||5%||3%|
Additionally, the cost of the levy to individual businesses is such that for at least 50% of levy payers is represents a relatively small outlay: the median Rateable Value (RV) for the city centre is £20,000 with a BID levy of £300 per annum. This compares to the Business rate monthly payment of around £900 per month for that business.