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Business Improvement Districts

Date published: 
25 February 2016

The number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in London has grown over recent years, but have they been a success?

BIDs are areas where local businesses vote to collectively improve an area with the aim of encouraging vibrant high streets and business growth. They have a distinct role, set apart from a local authority, and with their own budgets, funded by a levy on businesses.

Businesses have a clear stake in creating the conditions to revitalise London’s high streets and town centres and the Mayor of London has promoted BIDs during his mayoral term.

The London Assembly Regeneration Committee report ‘Business Improvement Districts: The role of BIDs in London’s regeneration’ looks into the success of BIDs and has made a number of key findings:

  • BIDs have the potential to deliver significant local improvements and be key partners in shaping our high streets and making them a success, despite regeneration not being their core remit.
  • A major benefit of BIDs is their ability to respond quickly to local priorities with the mandate of local businesses.
  • They have demonstrated value in making improvements to high streets, but there are concerns around their accountability to local communities and that they may be asked to step in and fill gaps left by local councils.

The report makes a number of recommendations:

  • The next Mayor should establish a London Standard for BIDs and encourage all BIDs in London to sign up to a set of principles governing management. Minimum turnout thresholds should be introduced when establishing a London BID and landowners should be encouraged to be involved.
  • The next Mayor should continue to fund BIDs in the set-up phase, where there is local business demand for them, but the GLA should also use funding to support a diversified offer to established BIDs.
  • The next Mayor should investigate options for a coaching programme for new BIDs, so they can receive support from more established BIDs.
  • The next Mayor should strengthen links between BIDs and the London Enterprise Panel (LEP). The SME Working Group should also examine options to expand BIDs’ eligibility to tender to become delivery partners for LEP and GLA funding.

The report is available to download below.

Update: Following publication of the report, E11 BID clarified the amount of levy money collected by the BID.  Paragraph 1.5 of the report has been revised accordingly.

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