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 across the area. After five years, a re-ballot must be held to enable the BID to continue.
What is the BID levy for?
The levy is a collective fund which is ring fenced to the area to provide additional services. These services are grouped in four main themes – regeneration, safety, sustainability, and promotion – and include public realm improvements, enhanced policing, a dedicated Clean Team, Summer Street Ambassadors, and a wide range of events and business seminars. The levy also funds exclusive money saving schemes and specially negotiated services which are dedicated to BID members.
How much do I pay?
The annual BID levy is calculated at 1.5% of the rateable value of each eligible property (also known as a hereditament). Rateable values are assessed by Land and Property Services and published in the non-domestic valuation list each year. The BID levy is collected by Belfast City Council in April or May each year. However, all the money raised is then passed to Linen Quarter BID to fund enhanced services and projects in the area.
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. 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. Businesses have little say in how their rates are distributed. In contrast spending within the BID is determined by a Board drawn from local organisations.
Charities get rate relief so do they still have to pay?
Registered charities 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 in. Rateable value is only used in the calculation of the levy and does not directly relate to rates collection or exemptions. Charities are only exempt if they are solely volunteer based, for example a local sports club. 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 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. Those with other charitable endeavours and outreach programmes are not exempt.
How will this benefit my business? I have not seen any improvement!
The Linen Quarter BID was only constituted in 2018, but within its first 12 months it has already delivered a large number of projects and services. These include:
- 5 Summer Street Ambassadors on the ground from June to September.
- A Clean Team that provides litter picking three mornings a week and graffiti removal / street washing once a week.
- A bespoke waste management service that offers discounted rates with an improved focus on recycling and re-use and free waste management consultancy.
- 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.
- A public realm improvement scheme “Flax Fields” at Bedford Square.
- Recruitment of a new full-time events manager and 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 healthchecks for workers based in the Linen Quarter.
- Continuation of the Clean Team, Summer Street Ambassadors and waste management services.
How can I engage with Linen Quarter BID?
There are seven ways to engage with the BID:
- 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.
- 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.
- Join one of our groups – we have an events reference group and a community safety reference group, both of which meet every 2-3 months.
- 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.