Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions about BIDs. If you have a question that is not answered below then please contact the BID Office.
Business Improvement Districts across the world are delivering a wide variety of projects and services which are specific to their local area. These projects and services are identified by the local businesses through a consultation with them on their main issues and concerns.
There is no restriction on the types of projects or the scale of projects that the businesses wish to see delivered except that they must not replace statutory services that are delivered by public authorities. Highlighted below are just some of the many benefits of a BID.
- Funds collected through the BID are used to directly benefit those who are paying for them.
- A BID’s provides an annual funding amount which is predictable, stable and can be anticipated for budget and program planning purposes
- A BID leads to a higher degree of unity among businesses
- A BID tends to foster better relations between the private sector and the public sector
- Over time, the BIDs tend to leverage greater amounts of both public and private improvements within a business district.
- The BID enables the business community to spend most valuable volunteer and staff time implementing projects, programs and actions to enhance the business district by relieving them of the need to raise funds to finance activities.
- A BID can be used to save businesses money through economies of scale in services and utilities
Get involved. By being involved and working with others to help deliver change and improvement to your local area. A BID provides a structure and finance to be able to get things done which are going to benefit the businesses and the wider community. It will have a committed Board of Directors working within a strong local partnership with their local authority and other bodies to deliver improvement, working together to find solutions, with each understanding the priorities and concerns of the other.
Through a task group made up of the proposed business sectors to be involved. The local authority and other relevant groups from within the proposed BID area oversee the development process. In the initial stages the task group instigate a dialogue with the local authority and other interested partners and initiate the engagement and consultation with the businesses within the proposed BID area to determine the issues and concerns of the businesses.
The task group make the decisions on the BID area, size and liability for the levy and the projects and services to be delivered from the dialogue and consultation with the businesses. The task group only exists during the development of the BID and the initial set up of the new BID Company. Following a successful ballot, a new Board of Directors will be nominated from the businesses involved in the BID.
The ballot is a confidential postal ballot, the same as a postal vote in a local authority election, held by the ballot holder, normally the local authority. All eligible persons located in the BID area will have the opportunity to vote on the BID Business Plan. In Northern Ireland a BID will only be approved if:
- there is a minimum turnout (the headcount) of 25% of the individual persons entitled to vote
- more than 50% by turnout and by rateable value of the properties vote in favour.
This very much depends on what local partnerships already exist and the level of support from the businesses and the local authority, but normally it takes around 12 months.
BIDs in Northern Ireland will have a maximum term of five years, at which time the BID is required to seek a new mandate from the businesses by way of a renewal ballot to be able to continue in operation.
BIDs in Northern Ireland are underpinned by:
The legislation in relation to the development of a BID is very flexible and is able to be used in a number of diverse ways by businesses to help bring about strong local partnerships with the common objective to deliver local positive change and improvement contributing to sustainable economic growth.
The projects and services are determined by consulting with the businesses, to identify their issues and concerns.
Following consultation with the businesses a draft business plan is prepared which will detail the proposed projects and services, the cost of each project and service, the delivery costs, the method of apportionment of the costs across the businesses and the cost to each group or band of businesses. The levy can be paid by property owners or occupiers. The levy varies from place to place dependent on the ambitions and types of projects the businesses want to see delivered, but generally for small businesses the levy can be as little as a few pounds per week.
The levy is entirely separate to business rates and can only be drawn down by the Board of Directors of the BID Company and used for the delivery of the projects and services detailed in the business plan, which has been approved by a ballot of the eligible persons. The levy is not a new source of funding for a local authority.
No, local authorities and other statutory bodies are only required to provide statutory services such as road and footway maintenance, litter bins, street sweeping, road and footway lighting. They are not required to deliver projects or services such as events, Christmas illuminations, property improvement programmes, safety projects or business events. To ensure that projects and services are additional to statutory services local authorities, the PSNI, Transport NI and other statutory bodies are required to provide details of their baseline services and these form part of the Baseline Services Agreement. The baseline services are normally benchmarked at the beginning of the BID and monitored throughout the term of the BID.
The payment of the levy is not related to whether you pay business rates or not. The legal responsibility for the payment of the levy is based on whether you are liable to pay business rates.
The BID Business Plan is put to a democratic secret postal ballot of the eligible persons (property owners and or occupiers) and if the majority vote in favour all eligible persons liable to pay the non-domestic rate are liable for the levy.
The legislation underpinning BIDs in Northern Ireland includes recovery powers for the local authority to allow them to collect all levy due under the BID Arrangements.