A Business Improvement District is a defined area in which businesses pay a small additional levy, normally 1%, on their business rates towards projects and services designed to enhance local commercial conditions.
The BID is introduced following a ballot of businesses liable to the levy and if the ballot result is in favour of a BID, with majorities both of rateable value and of those businesses voting, the levy becomes mandatory on all business ratepayers above a threshold of rateable value.
The first UK BID was introduced in Kingston in 2005 and there are now 33 in London covering key districts including the West End, Paddington, Victoria, London Bridge and Bankside. They are a vehicle for funding for additional services and for collective action by businesses to improve the business environment.
Increasing footfall and declining local authority resource
Despite additional services delivered by South Bank Employers’ Group (SBEG) the pressure continues to grow, with the potential to harm the South Bank’s reputation as a world-class place to visit and do business. The solution was in the hands of the local business community – establishing a BID provides extra resources to secure an appropriate standard of management and maintenance. Businesses have a channel for reporting problems with cleanliness, graffiti, illegal trading and aggressive begging and the BID responds with its own services or helps secure the necessary local authority response.
Brand and marketing
The South Bank brand is very strong, and destination marketing is effective. However competition is growing and many visitors aren’t staying as long or spending as much in the area as they could. And there are substantial seasonal variations. The South Bank BID provides the opportunity for a wide range of businesses to influence the priorities for enhanced destination marketing and secures the greatest benefit, especially from digital marketing and social media.
A voice for South Bank business
The BID represents South Bank business interests to partners such as the Local Authorities, the Mayor and the Police. The collective voice of South Bank business expressed through the BID helps us campaign for improvements and investment in the neighbourhood.
The impact of construction
The next five years of development will have a major impact on the area. The Shell site, Elizabeth House, One Blackfriars, South Bank Tower, Doon Street and others have the potential to cause severe disruption. The BID plays its part in establishing and sustaining measures to maximise coordination between contractors, managing impacts across borough boundaries and communicating diversions and closures to help businesses deal with their impact on customers, staff and visitors.
A platform for local initiatives
During the consultation, South Bank businesses highlighted desirable local projects such as greening and local recruitment and the BID now has access to funding sources for such initiatives. This provides opportunities to augment the levy collected from members, meaning better value for money for businesses.
Opportunities for networking and communication
The South Bank BID uses best practice to develop networking and collaborative initiatives such as joint purchasing. South Bank is already a venue for cultural performances and events throughout the year and the BID brings these more effectively to the attention of local employees, especially details of special offers and free attractions.