Letter from British BIDs to National Levy Payers
British BIDs' Chief Executive, Christopher Turner, has issued a letter to a number of national businesses in response to recent correspondence surrounding the request for a reduction/waive of their levy payments. The full letter can be read below.
British BIDs, The BID Foundation and the Association of Town and City Management are working together to ensure that BID levy payers continue to support their BIDS. The 329 BIDs across the British Isles have worked hard during the Covid-19 crisis. We know that they have provided information and advice on grant funding from government, using their levy payers’ email and SMS contacts. They have kept their Rangers or street wardens operational, keeping the properties of levy payers safe and secure, at a time when many had furloughed all of their staff. They have advised their members on the various stages of the reopening as the rules became clearer, and they have been very heavily involved in the signposting of their towns and cities as people returned to shopping and food areas.
Most BIDs have done this with very low levels of levy payment, have in the main had to furlough members of their teams, and have thus done this with very small numbers of staff. This continues, even as we are starting to plan for Christmas and the New Year, and we are all developing marketing campaigns for our towns and cities to increase consumer confidence so that those who are wanting or interested to come back feel safe and return again and again.
Most BIDs are thus working flat out with extremely tight cash flows. We asked government for some assistance, and received some small amount -5% of income - to cover three months operational costs, and many of us are facing a major reduction in our levy payments. Of course, many of our levy payers are keen to pay; they know they have received an amazing service during the lockdown and they are keen to work with their BID in planning for the future.
We thus believe that there is no argument for waiving or reducing BID levies at this time, and our discussions with BIDs across the country confirms this. Some BIDs have large reserves or for other reasons have been able to give reductions in their levies, we do not believe this is always or necessarily fair or appropriate. Our regulations preclude any changes to the levy % without an alteration ballot, and individual piecemeal reductions for particular levy payers doesn’t seem fair to those who have managed to pay and are keen to continue to do so. Of course, many retailers in managed centres already receive a reduction, and some local authorities, who collect our levies, are able to offer payments plans.
We therefore do ask that BID levy payers pay their levies, and we particularly ask that our national colleagues recognise that many independents are also trying hard to pay their dues in building for the future of their towns and cities. We know that many national retailers have already paid levies to some of their BIDs and are keen to support their BIDs, and we are very keen that all do so.
I do hope you can support us in this endeavour.
- Chris Turner
British BIDs' Chief Executive