New Brentwood business levy could raise up to £600k

Up to £600,000 a year could be generated for high street improvements if a new levy is agreed by Brentwood businesses.

Brentwood Borough Council is aiming to ask Brentwood businesses in June 2023 whether they want to create a Business Improvement District (BID) that incorporates the Brentwood, Shenfield and Ingatestone high streets.

The likely earliest start date for a formation of a Brentwood BID is October 1 2023.

A BID is a defined area in which a levy is charged on all business rate payers in addition to the business rates bill. This levy is used to develop projects which will benefit businesses in the local area.

Research already conducted by the council suggests indicative support for a BID proposal.

The council acknowledges a BID proposal must set out who is liable for the levy, the amount of levy to be collected and how it is calculated.

A levy rate is likely to range between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent of the business’s rateable value. Likely final levy income is between £400,000 and £600,000 a year.

The council is now set spend around £20k on further engagement with businesses and to help to define the exact benefits of any BID, levy rules including thresholds and levy rates and an estimated likely turnout and support for any BID proposal.

Chris Hossack, leader of Brentwood Borough Council, told the policy, resources and economic development committee on September 14: “It is an exciting opportunity but again another thing we have to bear in mind as we talk about going out to consultation is the business community are hard pushed and part of the mechanism of this is to implement a levy.

“And that is the chicken and egg situation. If we improve our district and the businesses in those districts will that assist economically and therefore is it worth the cost of a levy.

“But ultimately that is for the business community to decide once the case is made.”

There are currently more than 300 BIDs operating across the UK, including in Nearby Chelmsford, Southend, Colchester and Romford.

Supporters of BIDs say they create significant sums of investment and create strong governance structures that help businesses to make decisions about improvements in their area and which helps to attract external funding in addition to the funding raised through the BID levy.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter