A Business Improvement District (BID) is an area, usually (but not always) centred around a town centre, which has a specific and focused mandate to create extra services in addition to those already provided by the local authority to maximise the experience for businesses, shoppers and workers. There are 160 BIDs throughout the UK.
The decision to create a BID is voted on at regular intervals by all organisations large and small within the boundary of the BID area.
Following the 2014 ballot in favour of a renewal of the Reading BID, from 1 April 2014 all members of the BID area will pay a 1% levy in addition to their business rates, which funds the extra services provided by the BID. Licenced premises (alcohol or non-alcohol open at any time of the year after midnight) will pay the standard 1% levy and an additional night-time levy of 2%. The 2% levy will be ring-fenced for initiatives to promote the night-time economy.
Reading has had a BID since 2005 and the town centre has been transformed as a result. Businesses within Reading's BID area have recently voted in favour of the proposal to renew the BID from April 2014 for a further five years.
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