Coronavirus: £1m boost to help business improvement districts support local firms

Business improvement districts (BIDs) in Scotland will be able to continue providing support to local firms during the Covid-19 outbreak through a £1 million resilience fund made available by the Scottish Government.
Phil Prentice flags the important role BIDs play, Picture: Sandy Young .Phil Prentice flags the important role BIDs play, Picture: Sandy Young .
Phil Prentice flags the important role BIDs play, Picture: Sandy Young .

Business improvement districts involve local firms agreeing to pay a further levy on top of their business rates to pay for projects that will improve the local economy. There are 37 active BIDs in Scotland, with more in the pipeline.

Alongside the package of measures to support businesses, including a suspension of business rates for some, 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 £1m “will allow many BIDs to play a vital role in supporting local businesses and town centres during these challenging times”.

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As part of the Covid-19 BIDs Resilience Fund, administered through Scotland’s Improvement Districts, BIDs across Scotland will be able to apply for funding to support local businesses by helping them access the government support available and by co-ordinating a response at a local level to keep the local economy moving.

Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and programme director of Scotland’s Improvement Districts, said: “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.”