BID questions

What is the Business Improvement District?

The Business Improvement District is an area of the town centre where non-domestic ratepayers are required to pay a financial levy which is used to provide services of benefit to businesses in the area.

The latest Business Improvement District was established through a ballot of business that would be liable to pay the levy conducted on 18 October 2019 and is binding on ratepayers in the BID area until March 2025. By law a renewal ballot must be held if the provider of the BID services wishes to propose the continuation of the Business Improvement District after March 2025.

Details of the geographical area of the BID can be found in the BedfordBID Company BID Proposal available from the company’s website or contact BedfordBID Company for a copy.

What is the Council’s role in the BID?

The Council is by law the billing authority for any business improvement district in its area which means it is responsible for the collection of BID levies. The Council is not be responsible for providing the BID services because there is a non-local authority BID body for the Bedford BID.

What is the BedfordBID Company Ltd?

The BedfordBID Company Ltd is a non-local authority BID Body and is responsible for providing the business improvement district services for the Bedford town centre BID. The Company was appointed as the BID Body through the ballot process.

What does a business get in return for paying a BID levy?

The BedfordBID Company is responsible for providing the BID services. Information about the services that will be provided can be obtained from BedfordBID Company Ltd, Suite 8, Marks Mews, 37 Castle Lane, Bedford, MK40 3NT or by email from

A summary of the services concerned is set out in BedfordBID’s BID Renewal Proposal document.

Aren’t these services provided by the Council?

The services provided under a Business Improvement District are additional services not provided by the Council or enhancements to Council services.

What is the Business Improvement District (BID) Levy?

The BID levy is an annual charge that is payable in respect of most non-domestic properties in the Business Improvement District area of the town centre .

Who has to pay the BID Levy?

The person or organisation liable to pay the non-domestic rates for the property is liable to pay the BID levy. Where a property is occupied this is the occupier, for empty properties the person or organisation entitled to occupy the property is liable to pay. This will normally be the leaseholder or the owner.

Does the Council and other public sector bodies pay the BID Levy?

Yes. The Council and other public bodies must pay the levy on properties within the BID area for which they are liable to pay non-domestic rates.

Can I opt out of the BID?

No. The BID arrangements are legally binding on non-domestic ratepayers in the business improvement district area.

What happens to the money that is collected through the levy?

The funds collected through the BID levy are transferred to the BID Body (Bedford BID Company Ltd) after allowing for the Council’s costs in collecting the levy. The funds are used by the BID Body to provide the services required under the terms of the BID ballot.

I don't think I benefit from BID services, why should I pay?

The BID levy is a charge payable by law and not a payment for services received. If you have an enquiry about how you might benefit from BID services you should contact the Bedford BID Company.

I voted against the BID proposals, do I still have to pay a levy?

Yes, the ballot is binding on all business in the BID area including those that voted against the proposals. The outcome of the ballot is also binding on persons or organisations who become ratepayers after the date of the ballot.

How is the levy charge worked out?

The BID levy for each financial year is calculated as £0.02 (2 pence) for every £1.00 of the property’s rateable value as at 1st April of the year. It will be calculated on a daily basis where a ratepayer is only liable to pay the BID levy for part of a year.

Where a property is entered into the rating list for only part of a year then the charge will be calculated on a daily basis for the number of days that the property is shown in the rating list.

Are there any discounts, reliefs or exemptions?

The discounts, reliefs or exemptions from non-domestic rates do not apply to the BID levy. However, properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less are exempt from this BID levy.

Offices occupied by a charity are exempt from this BID levy, but the levy is payable in respect of shops and other properties occupied by charities.

We are a charity or a not-for-profit organisation do we still need to pay?

Offices occupied by a charity are exempt from the BID levy, but the levy will be payable in respect of shops and other properties occupied by charities. There is no reduction or exemption for other not-for-profit organisations.

The property is unoccupied, do I still have to pay?

Yes. A ratepayer for an unoccupied property also has to pay the BID levy.

Can I pay by instalments?

No. The BID levy for 2021/22 is payable in one payment due on 1 March 2022 or 14 days after the issue of a levy demand notice whichever is later.

What will happen if I have paid the charge for the year then cease to be liable?

If you cease to be liable to pay part way through a financial year (e.g. you sell the property) and have already paid in full the Council will calculate the amount you have overpaid and refund this to you.

What will happen if I don’t pay?

The Council will take enforcement action to secure payment in a similar way to collection of non-domestic rates. Where a payment is overdue one final notice will be issued requiring payment within seven days. If payment is not received then a complaint will be made to the Magistrates seeking a liability order. Additional legal costs will be charged if legal proceedings are commenced.

Once a liability order is granted the Council can instruct an enforcement agent to seize goods to be auctioned to raise the money to pay the levy. In some circumstances a petition can be made for bankruptcy or the compulsory winding up of a company.