Levy Payers FAQ
The Linen Quarter BID is an independent, not for profit company that focuses on delivering specific improvements in the area. The BID was democratically elected for a five-year term, starting in February 2018, and is governed by a Board of Directors drawn from local organisations. After five years, another ballot must be held to enable the BID to continue for a second term. This will in January 2023.
Below are some of our frequently asked questions, to explain how the BID levy is calculated, charged and utilised. However, if you have any further queries or would like to know how the BID can benefit your business, please contact Charlotte via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 02890912992.
What is a BID?
BID stands for Business Improvement District. BIDs are area management organisations, democratically elected by the organisations within the district to deliver services and improvements over a five-year term. BIDs are bound by statute, The Business Improvement Districts Act (NI) 2013.
How are levies calculated?
Whilst the rate may vary depending on the BID, Linen Quarter’s levies are calculated at 1.5% of the property’s NAV (Net Asset Value). This is charged per property, meaning some members occupying a larger space will receive multiple invoices. Rateable values are assessed by Land and Property Services and published in the non-domestic valuation list each year.
Why do I have to pay the BID levy as well as rates?
Rates are a property tax to fund both local and regional services. They are collected by Land and Property Services on behalf of the NI Executive and District Councils. Businesses have little say in how their rates are distributed. The BID levy is completely ring fenced and is used to provide additional services for the immediate area, funding projects and activities that the City Council does not offer. Spending within the BID is determined by a Board, drawn from local organisations.
How are levies spent?
The levy contributes to a collective fund which is ring fenced to the area to provide additional services. Our spend is categorised into five key themes aimed at improving and enhancing our district:
- Clean & Sustainable: We fund cleansing contracts aimed at enhancing the work done by council. This includes graffiti removal, gum removal, and power washing, particularly on private land.
- Regeneration & Investment: The BID has funded the design and installation of a range of public realm improvements, such as parklets, planting and most recently Flaxx on Brunswick Street.
- Safe & Secure: The BID has a dedicated police officer who members can contact directly to discuss community safety issues.
- Promoted & Vibrant: The BID promotes the Linen Quarter as a home of hospitality, invests in social media and digital marketing, as well as running member networking events and training.
- Administration & Organisation
Do charities pay levies?
Registered charities receive rate relief but are still liable for the BID Levy because the money raised will benefit the area the organisation resides in, and all of those who work within it. Rateable value is only used in the calculation of the levy and does not directly relate to rates collection or exemptions. For the BID’s second term (2023-2028) charities will receive a discount of 50%. It should be noted that Public Sector organisations based in the area will also pay the BID levy like any other organisation.
Who is exempt from the levy?
There are currently three main exemptions: premises that are primarily used for religious activities, small organisations with a NAV below £4500, and organisations that are 100% staffed by volunteers. Church organisations are only exempt if they are solely used for worship. For term two (2023-2028), places of worship will continue to receive an exemption, charities will receive a 50% discount and the NAV threshold will be raised to £20,000.00. This means that smaller businesses will not be liable for the levy but can still benefit from wider BID services, such as cleansing and policing.
What were the main activities of the BID during its first term?
Year One (2018)
- Five Summer Street Ambassadors on the ground from June to September.
- Our Clean Team provided additional litter picking and power washing.
- The BID negotiated a bespoke waste management service that offers discounted rates with an improved focus on recycling and re-use and free waste management consultancy through ISL.
- Linenopolis, a pop-up heritage experience and store that help promote the area.
- A wide range of events including enhanced activities around culture night and the Ciclovia.
- Regeneration projects, such as Better Bedford Street.
- A regeneration vision to influence the £1 billion of investment that is anticipated over the next 10 years.
- Additional policing to enhance the PSNI presence in the district and tackle crime (Street Beat)
- A public realm improvement scheme, “Flax Fields” at Bedford Square, which included bright planting, a bin and additional seating for the public.
- Recruitment of a new full-time Events and Communications Manager.
- Delivery of dozens of new activities including an extension to the Linen Quarter of the Four Corners Festival, Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics, the Belfast Blues Festival, Culture Night, and Design Week.
- Delivery of a major new food festival in September, along with local initiatives such as Alive after 5 and a food and drink walking tour to promote cafes and restaurants in the area.
- Delivery of diverse business seminars, including cyber security, circular economy, sustainability and city regeneration.
- Introduction of “Purple Flag” a national accreditation for a well-managed night-time economy.
- Piloting a healthy district initiative, with free health checks for workers based in the Linen Quarter.
- Continuation of the BID’s Clean Team, Summer Street Ambassadors and waste management services.
- Recruitment of a Finance and Contracts Manager, and Regeneration Manager in late 2019.
- Linen Quarter once again sponsored the Four Corners Festival Festival of Chamber Music.
- We launched our ambitious events programme at a members’ event in Zen, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic.
- During the lockdowns, the BID continued the cleansing contract and enhanced policing, carried out checks on vacant buildings and continued to monitor and improve the area.
- Installation of a Ballot Bin to combat cigarette litter on Great Victoria Street.
- As we emerged from the first lockdown, we funded new planting on Bedford Street, as well as consultancy for members wishing to make changes to their premises to facilitate social distancing and sanitising.
- For year three, the BID requested special permission from DFC to discount levy invoices by 25% for private sector companies, and 50% for charities, retail and hospitality. We also delayed invoicing these members due to the challenges imposed by enforced lockdowns. This enabled the BID to continue delivering services during this challenging time, whilst providing some relief to members.
- As we emerged from Covid-19, the BID was delighted to recruit two Street Ambassadors, who worked to promote the area over the summer months.
- Work was completed on our first parklet on Linenhall Street, and followed by our second on Bedford Street, outside Pug Ugly’s.
- A district-wide planting programme was funded, where the BID commissioned a landscaper to replant Ormeau Avenue, Linenhall Street and the Flax Fields planters.
- The BID launched the RE:ACT Festival to coincide with COP26. This was the first of its kind, offering an ambitious programme of events around waste management, the fashion industry, food, community wealth and green buildings.
- Our Belfast in Bloom planting was installed by city council on Great Victoria Street and funded by the BID.
- The BID funded an in-depth Climate Awareness programme and Cycling Consultancy, helping members become more cycle-friendly.
- Health Week returned with in-person Health Checks, Physio and CPR Training.
- Work was completed on Flaxx, an outdoor dining and entertainment space on Brunswick Street. This was launched with a members’ Games Night in September 2022.
- The BID funded enhanced cleansing and safety initiatives as part of Clean and Safe Week. This included power washing outside the main hotels, deployment of a drugs dog, additional litter picking resource and community safety seminars.
- The BID funded drug outreach through Extern, over the summer months to engage with the most vulnerable members of society.
- Our Petanque court was constructed on Blackstaff Square which can be used by the public.
- Our Flax Fields planters were moved to Blackstaff Square and replanting, adding some much-needed colour.
- Our third parklet was completed on Linenhall Street, outside Coco, Urban Retreat and Snax, providing outdoor dining space.
- Our BID services continued; cleansing, pest control,
- Our member engagement and consultation continues as we seek views from anyone in the Linen Quarter that will shape our programme for term two.
What are the BID’s plans for Term Two?
To view our consultation document, please click here.
How can I engage with the BID and stay up to date?
- Attend our events, which includes networking events, city festivals, local promotions, and business seminars.
- Follow us on social media. Our website will reflect all the recent news and delivery projects; and we are active on twitter @linenquarterBID and Instagram @linenquarter
- Sign up to our newsletter – you can register your details under the “news and events” section of the website, or email the team.
- Contact us about any of our activities, or with any issue relevant to living, working or visiting the Linen Quarter – see the ‘contact us’ section of the website.
- Arrange a one to one with our staff or ask the MD to deliver a presentation to your team.
- Apply to join our Board. This is the main governance mechanism for the BID, which meets 10 times per year to set the strategic direction, oversee operations, and approve spend.