BIDs not integrated into wider governance structures, research finds

A key research report undertaken by the Institute of Place Management for The BID Foundation has revealed that Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are not yet integrated into local authority and government policy-making, which could lead to limits on their effectiveness.

The research, launched today at The BID Foundation’s spring conference at Southwark Cathedral, analysed data from the UK and Northern Ireland’s 300 BIDs. The report concluded that greater integration was needed between government at all levels and BIDs, which focus on delivering economic improvements in commercial centres.

Catherine Mitton, Executive Director at The BID Foundation said: “This research is an important step forward for BIDs in the UK and Northern Ireland, and represents the first nationwide exercise to understand how we are performing as a sector. The BID Foundation will use the information to open new avenues of enquiry in consultation with members, so that we can continue to demonstrate the worth of BIDs at a time when they are so clearly needed.”    

The research also found:

  • At the time the research was carried out, only one BID had failed to achieve renewal after delivering two five-year terms, suggesting that levy payers increasingly value the achievements of the BID in their area over time.
  • BIDs which focus on delivering improvements to a single sector in their area, such as leisure and tourism or retail, could contribute to a failure to achieve diversification in the local economy.
  • Confusion about the nature of BIDs is maintained through inconsistent definitions and language.

Professor Cathy Parker, Co-Chair of the Institute of Place Management, said: “Our research showed that while BIDs continue to deliver real change in their areas, they need to develop consistent definitions and approaches to placemaking, learn from best practice and telegraph their achievements at the highest level”.

The IPM will deliver follow-up research in 2020 which will attempt to demonstrate the economic impact of BIDs since they were introduced in Britain fourteen years ago.

The BID Foundation will share key findings from the report with policy makers, local authorities and Local Economic Partnerships to raise the profile of the work of BIDs to encourage better collaboration and decision-making amongst regional and networks. Download the full report here.