The five business improvement districts (BIDs) which operate in SE1 could play an important role in rebuilding the local economy, but they face a financial squeeze with local firms unable to meet their levy payments.
There are four main business improvement districts which between them cover a large proportion of the SE1 postcode: Better Bankside, Team London Bridge, South Bank BID and We Are Waterloo. A small tranche of SE1 falls within the VauxhallOne BID.
Together, the BIDs in north Lambeth and north Southwark have become major players in local life, contributing to business, tourism, environmental and crime-fighting activity.
One local BID – Better Bankside – generates nearly £2 million a year from its levy on business rates.
Vauxhall MP Florence Eshalomi wrote to the Government in March to point out that despite the offer of a year of business rates relief during the COVID-19 crisis, traders were still being billed for the BID levy.
"Many have signalled they will not pay, and many BIDs will not survive the lack of levy income," she wrote.
Last week the Government announced that England's 261 BIDs would share £6.1 million of funding – less than £24,000 each on average – to help tide them over the crisis.
Nadia Broccardo, Team London Bridge chief executive, told SE1: "We're delighted with this response from Government.
"We know a lot of our businesses are struggling and this allows Team London Bridge to continue to support members through a period when our own income is uncertain.
"It is crucial that we are here alongside our colleagues at Southwark Council to help the effort to restart the local economy over the coming months."
Nic Durston, chief executive of South Bank BID, told us: "South Bank BID is working in partnership with our local authorities, the GLA, and our fellow BIDs in Lambeth, Southwark and across central London to ensure that the needs of our businesses are heard and understood. Through our industry bodies, we have been in positive dialogue with central Government over how best to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The BID Resilience Fund will provide the financial reassurance that many BIDs across England will need to weather this current storm. The funding will ensure that BIDs can continue to support their businesses – and the places and communities in which they work – especially in preparing robust plans for managing recovery in the coming months."
"As chair of the British BIDs Advisory Board, I am well aware of the challenges that BIDs are currently facing, given that many of the levy paying businesses they work for in their area have temporarily closed or furloughed staff during the pandemic. This fund will enable BIDs to plan ahead, and to work with businesses and partners in addressing shared priorities."
Florence Eshalomi MP said: "I welcome this announcement from the Government however the £6.1 million will be spread across the whole country and may not be enough.
"The BID levy payers in my constituency along the South Bank have closed their doors in line with Government advice to help save lives, so it is only right that they should be allowed 100 per cent levy relief in line with the one year business rates holiday.
"I will continue to lobby for additional support to help them as they are crucial to help form the business revival once we get over this national pandemic."
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