Advice and Best Practice for BIDs

The BID Foundation has been listening to what BIDs need now, and working carefully to deliver a response that best supports the industry and ensures its future.

On this page, you’ll find information and guidance on:

  1. Working with government

  2. Billing of the BID levy

  3. Ballots

  4. Best practice – how BIDs are responding (download)

  5. Ongoing support –weekly webinars and working groups, open to all BIDs

We have taken advice from a leading legal practitioner who has long experience of BIDs, to give BIDs and their stakeholders confidence in their position.

N.B. You can view a summary of non-BID specific government advice on business support here.


Working with government

The BID Foundation has been in discussion with all governments throughout the early stages of the UK’s COVID-19 response.

We have been making sure they understand the issues around any delays to billing, about potential delays to levies being paid and about possible consequences of ballots being delayed.

Our understanding is that BIDs have funding until the end of the financial year and we are aware some have reserves but many do not. The problem of funding will come if billing is delayed for whatever reason or if levy payers do not pay, maybe for understandable reasons. 

In Scotland there are responses being put in place to support BIDs and clear advice has come from Improvement Districts Scotland. In Wales we have been working with government to identify issues with them, alongside a number of BIDs, and they are expecting to announce support very soon. In England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has told us that they are aware of the issues and a looking into them.

We will continue to work with every organisation and industry body that stands behind this effort and recognises the need for a resolution to the challenges.



Given the circumstances, all BIDs are considering the best way to ensure funds for continued operation but to also give due consideration to the pressures on their levy payers at this time.

However, the legislation is clear that BIDs must bill as normal via their billing authority, both in order to meet their legal obligation, to enable their support to communities, and to ensure their ability to obtain BID levy now and in the future. 

  • BIDs should, though, tailor their enforcement, considering and offering payment options to their levy payers where possible (see options below)

  • In all cases, billing activity should be accompanied with communication acknowledging the pressures of COVID-19, setting out specific plans the BID has developed to support businesses during the crisis, and detailing any planned resource or budget reprofiling. 

  • We have prepared a template for guidance which is available to download.

  • Where bills have already been issued, we recommend that BIDs email levy payers to set out the mitigating measures they have in place.

This advice is founded in the legal framework for BIDs. You can download the full rationale and we hope it gives BIDs and their stakeholders full confidence in the legitimacy of this approach.

The following enforcement options may be considered (full details can be found in our expanded guidance):

  • Offering a temporary freeze on enforcement (e.g. 3 month delay on payment), specified within the Demand Notices
  • Allowing payment by installments
  • Offering a future rebate, should the BID secure sufficient finance through billing and/or other financial aid
  • Accepting third party payment of part or whole of the Demand Notices (e.g. from the Billing Authority or from government grant etc).



At yesterday's High Streets Task Force Sector Leaders Group, led by The BID Foundation, it was announced that the government is taking action to delay forthcoming BID ballots.

The government has put forward emergency legislation to allow a delay to ballots in England between now and 31 December 2020 until March 2021. This will ensure that they are conducted in a safe and effective way.

The Coronavirus Bill also includes new measures to ensure that Business Improvement  Districts (BID) are equipped to continue their vital role in managing the impact of the crisis on local economies and helping town centres and high streets recover.

To ensure no area loses its Business Improvement District at this critical time, emergency legislation will allow a delay to ballots between now and 31 December 2020 until March 2021. This will ensure that they are conducted in a safe and effective way.

We understand that Welsh and Scottish governments are considering positions on ballot postponement, and conversations are ongoing in Northern Ireland.

For further discussion and legal advice around ballots, please review our guidance note.



Best Practice

We have been speaking to BIDs around the UK since the COVID-19 measures were announced. As ever, the industry is showing resilience, innovation, and care for local businesses and communities, in the toughest of circumstances.

Download our best practice summary now 

Read our latest note on government support

We will continue to collect best practice from BIDs around the UK and share it via this page.


Ongoing Support

We must keep communicating and supporting all working for and with BIDs.

Please consider joining one of our weekly webinars where you can get peer support and continued guidance and advice on the issues you’re facing now.

View details of the following webinars here:

BID Communications Working Group - Mondays 2pm

BID Communications and Operations Working Group - Mondays 3.30pm