Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), originated in Canada and have spread around the world as a way for businesses to work together.
They work on a very simple principle where every business involved benefits and contributes equally. Smaller businesses pay less, and larger businesses pay more but each contributes the same percentage. Together a fund is built which has the power to make a real difference. By ensuring everyone contributes, BIDs eliminate the freeloader effect which tend to make other schemes fail. BIDs are fair and they have also proved to be highly effective.
In January 2004 the Government introduced legislation which brought BIDs to the UK, and around 150 have been established here. BIDs have been credited with halting and reversing the decline in many towns and cities, not least by Mary Portas in her report on “Saving the High Street”. BIDs have done this by making town centres more attractive and exciting to visit, by reducing costs to businesses, by increasing footfall and by shifting control from local authorities to businesses, and providing an effective means of control.
The success of BIDs can be measured by the support they have received from businesses around the country. Many BIDs have now held renewal ballots to run for a second five-year term and have been voted through. In most cases, businesses – which have been paying their levy and experiencing the benefits – have voted with an increased majority to continue their BID. They simply wouldn’t have done this unless the BID has helped them.