Levy payers have now received their annual levy bill and understandably, we have been asked some questions about it. We thought it would be useful to share these with everyone. Please let us know if there are other questions not mentioned here, and we will do our best to answer as soon as possible.
Are all businesses situated within the BID area be subject to the BID levy?
A BID levy threshold has been set at £5,000 pa so these businesses with a rateable value of £5000 or below will not have to pay but will still benefit.
I don’t pay business rates. Why do I still have to pay the levy?
Yes, the levy is based on rateable value of your property and not on whether you pay rates. If the rateable value is over the threshold you will be liable to pay.
Do councils pay the levy?
Yes, if a council owns property in the BID zone, they must pay. In our BID, both Town and Uttlesford District Councils have a few business premises in a BID zone.
Do not-for-profit, charities, charity shops have to pay the levy?
Many of the larger BIDs around the country offer a reduction or discount to not-for-profit charities or charity shops. Many of the smaller BIDs do not. Our BID for Saffron Walden is at the small end of the spectrum and will not offer a discount for the first term of a BID.
I voted no ‘No’. Why do I still have to pay?
Setting up the BID for Saffron Walden is a democratic process managed by a postal Ballot following 18 months of consultation. Its the same for all 300+ BIDS around the country. Turnout rate for the SWBID vote was 47% (higher than the national average) with 68% voting yes, so a BID is being set up here based on the majority of the town's businesses voting for it. All through the consultation process, we let people know that if there was a majority yes vote, then even if they didn't vote or voted no, all businesses in the BID zone would contribute so that we can deliver the proposals and plans in our Business Plan for all businesses. There is no 'opt out' This was included in the Plan on page 13 if you'd like to refer to it.
Isn’t this just going to benefit shop owners/big businesses? Why is this relevant to me?
A BID is run by local businesses to help local businesses thrive and to improve the economic prosperity of the town.
The cut off for businesses to be liable for a BID levy varies by BID depending on the size of the town or city and number of businesses in the BID area. For our BID the Steering Group (made up of representatives from local businesses) decided on the £5,000 through the process of consultation mentioned above. A business within the BID area, paying the levy gives that business a say on how the money is spent as a potential Member of the BID Company.
Because we have a large proportion of independent business in our town, the BID Steering Group wanted to make sure that as many business as possible could have their say in how the money is spent, so that it will benefit business and our town. If the cut off was set higher (as with some other BIDs in larger towns) this would mean that many of our businesses would fall below and they wouldn't have say to make sure the BID worked for them too.
What happens with empty properties?
The property owner gets to vote on the BID, but also becomes liable for the BID levy. There are two different approaches to paying the levy: chargeable day and daily charge. The approach varies according to circumstance.
Why do we have to pay this amount all at once?
As with any business, in order to deliver the proposals in the Business Plan the BID Company needs working capital, rather than taking out a loan to finance the projects. It is a one-off annual payment. There will be no additional outlay requested by the BID company. The levy will be spent on additional activity to bring visitors into town, to encourage residents to spend more time and money here and support business growth.
Can I pay by instalment?
Unfortunately not, because that will incur extra cost to the BID and therefore reduce the amount to spend on implementing the Business Plan.
What’s the basis on which the levy is calculated?
The levy is based on the business rateable value (BRV) of the property. Where the BRV is more than £5000, the amount is multiplied by 1.5% for a single annual payment for each business. You can find the BRV of our property from this site https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/business-rates-find/search
Do the nationals in town pay as well?
Yes. Every property with a BRV above £5,000 pays. Even if the bill is paid at Head Office, all levy collected is spent on our Town.
Why have we got a Business Improvement District in Saffron Walden?
A BID for our town received a ‘Yes’ vote from 68% of those who voted with the total rateable value of 75% of the total for the BID area. We had a 47% turnout which is higher than the national average turnout for BIDs. The BID ballot was overseen by the Electoral Reform Services who administer national ballots and elections. According to Government legislation for BIDs, the SW BID complied with the majority yes vote and the total rateable values of those voting yes exceeded the no vote.
How will the BID benefit my business?
The themes and activities in the business plan are based on consultation with you as business owners over the past 18 months. But these ideas just scratch the surface. Now that there is a BID for Saffron Walden, we have a great opportunity to explore ideas that have not yet surfaced, eg, better lighting or signage for areas that are off the beaten track, or improving the accessibility of the town.
We are excited to have been given the democratic mandate to work together so we can better realise the potential for Saffron Walden’s businesses with this major investment over the next five years. I have no doubt the BID will make a real difference in our town and help businesses to thrive. Working together is the way forward.