Monday 13 March 2006 5.30pm
Yes, you're right, the money does come from within the defined geographic area - in our case the area shown on our website at http://www.betterbankside.co.uk/site/bid/areamap.htm
was one of the lucky recipients of the LDA funding, as was Waterloo Quarter Business Alliance, whose positive ballot result came through last week. Other BIDs have to try to locate other sources of 'development' funding - a difficult proposition unless the businesses themselves to choose to dig deep.
We became aware when we were campaigning that it was likely that the 2005 ratings list (the valuations being changed every five years, as you know) would show a significant (even huge...) increase in valuations. For a variety of reasons we chose to link our 'levy' to the 2000 list instead. That formula (levy x 2000 valuation) is now fixed for our five-year life, although we are allowed to add an RPI-linked increment every year.
I never analysed the figures to see what the total increase in valuations between 2000 and 2005 was, across the piece. But certainly businesses have told us about figures exceeding 50%, and expressed a signficant degree of disquiet. This prompted us to organise an event on ratings (focusing on appeals) soon after we went 'live' last year.
In terms of transparency, we are a company limited by guarantee, and are therefore subject to corporate governance - our AGM took place two weeks ago and we have recently published our annual review. We have also just had to put together a spending profile to go out with the 2006-07 bills.
Of course the dilemma with business rates is that, although they are collected by local government, they go to central government, meaning there is no direct correlation between what you pay and what you get back in services. The Council also has no say in either the valuations or the annual 'multiplier' by which actual rates are calculated.
The Council is meant to consult with you annually over rises in the UBR 'multiplier', and it does - I believe - invite businesses to an annual (no doubt poorly attended - why shoot the messenger?) meeting.
I believe there is some talk about reforming the system to allow a percentage of business rates to be retained locally. However I will have to bow to those with more knowledge on this issue.