Business Improvement Districts are an effective way in which businesses can take control and improve their trading environment.
BID’s are funded and controlled directly by the businesses that pay for them. As a business, you choose which projects the BID fund is spent on.
Since 2004 when Government passed the Business Improvement Legislation, there have been over 300 successful BID’s in the UK, which over the next five years will generate over £100 million in investment.
Inspired by the successful delivery of the Hereford City Business Improvement District (BID) and recommendations in the Herefordshire Sustainable Destination Management Plan (2018), a feasibility study undertaken in 2019 identified an opportunity to establish a county wide ‘destination’ BID.
A BID is developed and run by businesses and is an arrangement where they and other contributing partners get together, decide what improvements they want to make in their destination, how they will manage these and what it will cost them. This all goes into a business plan which is voted on by all those who would have to pay a contribution to the delivery of the business plan (business rate paying business over an identified threshold defined in the plan). The BID lasts for a maximum of five years and must be able to demonstrate how it benefits the businesses that have funded it.
To date many BIDs across England have focussed on town or city centres, although a number of areas have now established them over a wider area such as coastal or rural areas forming tourism specific or ‘destination’ BIDs. A destination BID tends to focus on supporting the visitor economy and wider retail.
Why in Herefordshire and why a Destination BID?
There is a timely opportunity to support the growth of the visitor economy (defined as hospitality, visitor attractions, accommodation and retail) in Herefordshire. The county has a fantastic offer for both day and overnight visitors, able to compete with more recognised tourism destinations across the country, but there is limited awareness of what is available here at present. Over the past 6 months a wide range of national media have identified Herefordshire to be a top 10 ‘staycation’ destination. There is an opportunity for businesses in the county to benefit from increased trade through improving areas such as co-ordinated marketing, PR and visitor information, improvements to the experience/ place, and through enhancing the services such as developing workforce skills and availability.
The market towns across Herefordshire are critical to the local economy, both in terms of their offer to visitors but also to local residents as places for shopping, leisure, events and hospitality. The role of all towns and city centres is changing, and we need to work together to ensure the towns remain attractive, vibrant places for trade. The size of each of the market towns means that they are unlikely to be able to create a viable BID on their own (in terms of the numbers of potential levy paying businesses in any one town). A county wide BID will provide a route to supporting the visitor economy and the wider retail sectors in all of the market towns and across the rural areas.
What kinds of activity can a county BID support?
The following is an overview of the types of area and potential work areas that a BID can support.
Online Platforms, Destination Marketing, Visitor Information, Investor Marketing, Wayfinding
Mobile & Broadband Connectivity, Centralised Procurement, Training
Area Marketing, Tackling Crime Against Businesses, Cleansing & Maintenance, Policing
Powerful Collective Business Voice, Road & Access Improvements
Who decides what the funds are spent on?
Through extensive consultation businesses decide the areas they would like to spend the funds on, developing a business plan. It is the business plan that is then subject to a vote by potential levy paying businesses.
The development of the business plan is overseen by a business led Task Group of potential levy paying businesses. Anyone who is interested in joining the Task Group should contact us.
If the ballot supports the creation of the Herefordshire County BID, how much would I be likely to pay and who delivers the business plan?
The amount you pay per annum is based on the rateable value of each business. The amount of levy to be paid is defined in the business plan and subject to the vote, but this is typically circa 1.5% of a business’s rateable value, for those businesses with a rateable value of £12,000 and above.
On average a visitor economy and/or wider retail business in Herefordshire would pay in the region of £300-£400 per annum. The feasibility suggests that this would generate circa £3m to deliver the business plan over 5 years.
If the ballot is successful a new independent, not for profit BID company is formed, with the Board formed from levy paying businesses. The Board oversees the delivery of the business plan, and is accountable to all of the levy paying businesses.
The BID Task Group
I am delighted to become the Chair of the Herefordshire County BID. Herefordshire truly is a hidden gem; we have green space by the (country) mile, along with views that would make any heart soar. With our rolling hills, apple orchards and atmospheric woodlands, the beauty of the natural environmental is without question. It’s exciting to think of the potential of working together as owners of hotels, cafes, restaurants, B&Bs, shops and visitor attractions to embark on new projects and initiatives to help boost our economy. Watch this space!
Owner of Crumplebury & Green Cow & Chair of Herefordshire County BID
Oaker Wood Leisure
Wyastone Concert Hall
Legges of Bromyard
Hampton Court Castle
Cllr Paul Stevens
Hereford City Council
Cllr Ellie Chowns
Frequently Asked Questions
Have BIDs been supported elsewhere in the UK?
Since 2004 when this legislation was introduced, there have been over 300 BIDs developed in the UK, which over the next 5 years will bring in over £100 million of new finance to develop their locations. The nearest ones to here are Hereford City & Shrewsbury. Herefordshire County will be different in that it will be a ‘Destination’ BID combining its unique visitor and retail offer. Examples of Destination BIDs include The English Riviera and Isle of Wight.
What might a BID deliver?
It’s up to you. BIDs can deliver any projects or services that are agreed by the businesses in the BID area and that are over and above anything that the Public Sector provides through your business rates. In most cases they include marketing and promotional activities, improving access and facilities, welcome and safety measures, attracting new businesses and investment, reducing costs and enhancing the visitor experience. The important thing is that the BID is focused on delivering the operational and other projects as determined by detailed consultation with all businesses in the BID area.
Why do businesses support BIDs?
A BID is a mechanism which allows businesses to raise a sum of money to manage and deliver projects that they have identified and believe will improve their trading environment, ultimately increasing trade for those businesses who are paying for the improvements.
Who pays for a BID?
Once projects and services have been agreed by businesses along with how they are going to be delivered and managed, they are costed up and set out in a detailed business plan. The cost to each business is worked out on a pro rata basis. ‘This is called the ‘BID LEVY’. An independent and formal vote then takes place on the agreed projects and services and if the majority vote YES then ALL within the BID area HAVE to pay. The BID levy is normally paid by the occupiers of a property. In addition, BIDs can draw in other voluntary funding, grants and ‘in kind’ contributions to supplement the BID levy.
Who can develop a BID?
A BID can be proposed by any business ratepayer, property owner, local authority or a partnership with an interest in the BID Area.
How is a BID monitored?
Like any good business plan, specific key performance indicators (KPI’s) are set and performance is monitored against the KPI’s by the BID board. The BID Company is answerable to the businesses that pay the BID levy, and will be required to monitor and inform its members on its progress towards the agreed KPI’s.
How will the BID be managed?
BIDs are normally controlled and managed by local businesses that are paying the levy, currently the majority of successful BIDs are delivered through a Company Limited by Guarantee (not for profit). The BID Company would be responsible for the delivery of the BID projects and services and directly responsible to all businesses through a board elected from those businesses that pay the BID levy.
How does an area become a BID?
Normally a ‘BID Task Group’ is set up which is responsible for putting together a detailed business plan setting out the projects it aims to deliver on behalf of the businesses in the BID area. This is based on a detailed consultation process with businesses. The business plan will include the projects, cost, delivery guarantees, performance indicators and the management structure. A confidential postal vote is held, all the businesses that would pay the BID levy get a vote. To become a BID a majority of those that vote must be in favour by number and rateable value. A successful BID then has a mandate for a maximum of 5 years after which the BID would need to seek a re-ballot. The indicative timetable for developing the Herefordshire County BID is set out below.
Does this mean the local authority will stop delivering services?
BID money can only be used to carry out projects/services ADDITIONAL to those that public services have to provide. Prior to the BID Business Plan being produced the current services being delivered by all public agencies including the Local Authority and Police are benchmarked. This means the Local Authority has to continue to deliver that level of service for the period of the BID. The BID company can agree to provide additional resources to deliver a higher level of service over and above the benchmarked level if this is what businesses have identified.
Business Consultation & Engagement
Draft Business Plan
Final Business Plan & Ballot Campaign
02 – 30 Nov 2021