The fund has been announced as part of the Government’s response to the Business Rates Review commissioned by the Business Minister and carried out by Prof. Brian Morgan. Supporting the development of BIDs is also a key aspiration in Vibrant and Viable Places, the Welsh Government’s New Regeneration Framework, which was published for consultation by the Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister earlier this week.
A BID is an area where businesses have voted to invest collectively in local improvements, in addition to those delivered by statutory authorities. BIDs are developed, managed and paid for by the commercial sector through a compulsory BID levy. They are often a partnership arrangement through which the local business community and the statutory authorities can take forward projects which will benefit the local economy.
The funding will be targeted towards the development of BIDs in several towns across Wales, where local authority support and a commitment to collaborative working have already been secured. Schemes will be supported from inception through to ballot and innovative ideas, such as thematic, tourism and industrial BIDs will also be encouraged. Funding of up to £25,000 per application will be made available to support schemes.
Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis said:
“The New Regeneration Framework I launched earlier this week highlights the need to focus our efforts on regenerating town centres. BIDs could make a very useful contribution towards achieving this so I am very pleased that the Business Minister and I have worked together to make this funding available to bring forward initiatives across Wales. There is evidence that BIDs can have a positive re-invigorating effect in towns and they are an excellent example of the partnership working I am hoping to encourage more of
Business Minister Edwina Hart said:
“The Business Rates Review Group found that there is no evidence that business rates, on their own, would have a significant impact on the local economy. I am therefore every pleased to support the regeneration of town centres by providing start-up funding for Business Improvement Districts. This will encourage businesses to come together and support themselves to improve their offer and impact positively on town centres.”
A further £15,000 will be made available to review the two current BIDs in operation in Wales, in Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil, so that their experiences can inform any new schemes.
Mr Lewis added:
“Learning from the experiences of Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil will be very valuable in making sure we get the most out of BID schemes from the offset so I am also pleased to announce a review of those BIDs to inform the ongoing development of the programme.”