What is a Business Improvement District (BID)?

A Business Improvement District (BID) is a business-led initiative where businesses and organisations are invited to come together, in partnership with local authorities and public service providers, to make decisions and to take action to improve the trading environment within a defined geographic area.

Why is it needed in Ulverston?  Ulverston needs to ensure it remains competitive and healthy in a challenging economic climate, and the BID will be an engine to help build prosperity within the town.


What are the benefits?The BID itself provides a means by which businesses and organisations have the power to raise their own funds to address the priorities that matter to them, and to bring about positive improvements to the trading environment that benefits the whole community.

A spirit of collaboration, sharing knowledge, pooling resources and benefiting from economies of scale can add value to each individual business as well as improving the business district as a whole. Whether its focus is attracting more visitors and encouraging customers to stay longer, or raising the standards of local services and facilities, action to deliver an agreed set of projects and services has the potential to transform an area through collective action.

How is it paid for?   Much of the income needed to deliver projects and services through a BID comes from a BID levy – an additional charge alongside the Business Rates. This is collected on behalf of businesses by the Rates Authority (South Lakeland District Council) but is held in a ring-fenced account and used only for costs directly associated with the delivery of the BID, in other words the projects agreed and voted for by the participating businesses.

Is it just another tax?   The levy is NOT a tax and does not go to either the Government or the local authorities. Business Rates, together with the Council Tax, pays for statutory and non-statutory services such as cleansing, lighting, policing etc. The BID levy is a separate, specific fund to invest in projects and services identified and controlled by the businesses themselves. It provides for improvements and benefits in addition to existing services provided by the District Council and other public service bodies.

Who will manage the BID?   Businesses keep control of the money AND decide how it is spent. BIDs are well established in over 200 town and city locations across the UK, typically managed by a board made up of individuals who represent a cross-section of business sectors contributing to the levy.

Who will pay and how much will it cost?   Any persons, registered companies or charity/non profit-making organisations are liable for the BID levy if they are the occupiers/leaseholders of properties within the BID area, and their premises have a rateable value of more than £3,000. The BID Levy for Ulverston is set at 1.25% of a business rateable value to keep it proportionate and affordable for ratepayers.