What is a BID?
How was Swansea BID formed?
Swansea BID was formed following a consultation process with the businesses, followed by a ballot in which businesses voted on the BID proposal/business plan. Businesses in Swansea City Centre were asked to vote in May 2006 and March 2011 on whether they would like to set up and in 2011 to continue the Business Improvement District in Swansea City Centre. A successful ballot was secured on both occasions.
Both ballots are run by Electoral Services at The City & County of Swansea.
For a BID to go ahead the ballot must be won on two counts:
1) Straight YES majority
2) Majority of rateable value (the value of a commercial property unit)
This ensures that the interests of large and small businesses are protected. There is no minimum turnout threshold.
What is a BID?
A BID is a business-led and business funded body formed to improve a defined commercial area.
Where did the BID idea start?
BIDs were first established in Canada and the US in the 1960s and now exist across the globe, including in South Africa, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
How many BIDs are there in Britain?
The majority of BIDs exist in town centres, however there are increasing numbers in industrial areas, as well as commercial and mixed-use locations. There is a total of 140 BID’s in the UK as of November 2012.
The average size of a BID is 300-800 businesses, with some of the smallest having fewer than 50 businesses and the largest at 2,500.
Annual income is typically £200,000-£600,000 but can be less than £50,000 per annum or over £2 million.
Who pays and who collects the money?
The BID levy is on business occupiers ie. business ratepayers, rather than property owners. This is in line with the business rates system.
The BID levy is collected by the local authority into a ring-fenced account (called the BID Revenue Account) and passed to the BID Company for use on the projects and services set out in the BID proposal.
How much do I pay?
A BID is funded through the BID levy, which is a small percentage of a businesses’ rateable value. The majority of BIDs charge 1% of rateable value, and Swansea BIDs case it is 1%. Example - 1% levy, a business with a rateable value of £5,000 would pay £50 per annum.
The BID levy is mandatory for all eligible businesses. BIDs can choose to exclude certain businesses from paying the levy (and therefore from voting in the BID ballot). Many BIDs exclude the smallest businesses below £5,000 rateable value will not be required to pay and shopping centre tenants get a 10% discount.
BIDs are often successful at attracting funding in addition to the BID levy. They are particularly attractive to public sector grant making bodies due to the private sector match-funding available through the BID levy. In the case of Swansea, £10,000 per annum has been committed in voluntary contributions so far on top of the £485,000 in BID levy income.
Is it just another tax?
No, the money does not go to the Central Government or the City Council. Funds are ONLY for BID projects above and beyond those delivered by the local Council.
How do you ensure BIDs add value?
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 Swansea BID provides are truly additional. All these baselines/service agreements are/will be on the website www.swanseabid.co.uk
An Operating Agreement is also entered into between a BID and Swansea Council governing how the BID levy monies are collected and administered and passed over to the BID.
What do BIDs actually do?
The improvements made by a BID include core services such as additional car parking and transportation offer, cleansing and security or more wide-ranging projects such as business support, improved infrastructure area branding, promotion etc.
In the case of Swansea BID, the focus is on 5 themes –
1) Car Parking & Transportation 2) Safety & Security 3) Marketing & Events 4) Gum removal & Graffitti removal 5) Commercial Business
How long does a BID run for?
BIDs operate for a term with a maximum length of five years before going up for renewal ballot. In this case each successful term will be for 5 years.
How successful have BIDs been so far?
There are 140 BIDs around the country. Of those, 16 have come to the end of their first BID term and have balloted businesses to continue – all 16 have been voted in to continue their BID for a second term.
The Welsh government have also begun the process of rolling out BIDs across Wales owing to the success of the BID here in Swansea.