Business Improvement Districts to support coronavirus recovery with £1 million Scottish Government fund
Many Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Scotland will be at the forefront of the local response to the COVID-19 outbreak through a £1 million resilience fund made available by the Aileen Campbell, cabinet secretary for communities and local government.
Business Improvement Districts are collaborative business improvement projects whereby local businesses vote to establish a company to deliver joint economic and business development initiatives from a shared fund. Local businesses agree to pay an additional levy on top of their business rates to pay for projects that will improve the local economy and business outcomes for businesses and communities alike.
There are 37 active BIDs across Scotland with many more in the pipeline.
Alongside the package of measures to support businesses, including a suspension of business rates for some businesses, the Scottish Government and Scotland’s Improvement Districts, the national centre for BIDs, have suggested that local authorities should not collect the BID levy during the current COVID-19 crisis, while the £1 million funding package will allow many BIDs to play a vital role in supporting local businesses and town centres during these challenging times.
As part of the COVID-19 BIDs Resilience Fund, administered through Scotland’s Improvement Districts, many BIDs across Scotland will be able to apply for funding to support local businesses by signposting to, and supporting them to avail of, the Government support that is available and coordinate a response at a local level to keep the local economy moving.
BIDs will support local businesses to find new and innovative ways to maintain trading, and support other community initiatives to help more vulnerable people. In addition, they will commence preparations for a locally-led recovery campaign to help local town centres bounce back once the Government’s social distancing rules have been relaxed.
Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and programme director of Scotland’s Improvement Districts, added: “Business Improvement Districts are a vital component of Scotland’s economic infrastructure, and they are key to helping keep our local economies moving during this challenging period. BIDs have the local relationships, knowledge and flexibility to develop innovative ideas and solutions in times like this, and we warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s acknowledgement of the important role they play in our city and town centre economies.
“This funding will allow BIDs to play a crucial role in supporting local businesses to access the various mitigation packages that are available and will provide a forum to bring local businesses and communities together to try and keep our towns and cities moving. Many businesses are coming up with creative ways to keep trading, and BIDs can support the scaling up of this innovation and creativity across the country.”
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