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Stirling BID halves levy payments during COVID-19 crisis.

Stirling’s Business Improvement District (BID) has cut this year’s levy payment by half to help companies hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

The team at Go Forth Stirling is charging traders 50% of the usual fee for the 2019/2020 financial year.

It is one of a handful of Scottish BIDs to take this action and was among the first to suspend levy payments when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit.

And despite the fee reduction, the BID has offered business owners an enhanced package of support measures throughout the crisis including a free online training platform, provision of protective equipment and digital grants.

The BID also led efforts to boost sales throughout lockdown and once businesses were allowed to reopen with an online `Open for Business’ directory and a `Shop Local’ poster campaign.

Go Forth Stirling Project Director Danielle McRorie-Smith said: “We are proud to be one of very few BIDs who have taken the decision to discount the 2019/2020 levy fee by 50%.

“It’s another way we can help our traders who have been hit hard by the pandemic and we think it’s the right approach to take.

“The BID does need an income in order to carry out its operations and if a business wants to pay the levy in full they can still do that – but we will also be looking into other sources of funding.”

The Go Forth financial year runs from September 1 until August 31 meaning the BID has recently started its fourth year of operation.

Bills for the new 2020/21 financial year will be sent out in November and those businesses who already paid their levy in full for the 2019/20 year will see a 50% credit applied to the new invoice.

In March, Go Forth Stirling announced plans to halt the collection of payments made by the city’s traders for a period of six months. The team has now followed up on their decision by not charging traders for those six months at all.

Ms McRorie-Smith said: “As we went into lockdown in March, we quickly realised it was not in the best interests of Stirling city centre traders to make their levy payments at that time so we decided to suspend them for six months.

“We’ve now gone further by halving the levy for the year while at the same time actually increasing the number of services we offer to Stirling’s businesses. Everything we have done has been aimed at helping them survive the pandemic and come out the other side with a thriving business.

“We believe we’ve been successful in the support we’ve provided and have received some incredibly positive feedback from businesses who’ve seen us as something of a lifeline during difficult times.

“We recently sent out a survey to BID members and were pleased with the responses which showed members are very satisfied with the support provided by Go Forth Stirling and aware of the measures we have put in place.

“We were determined to be there for our businesses and have fulfilled that role to the best of our ability.”

Like all BIDs, Go Forth Stirling charges business owners a levy which varies according to the rateable value of their retail premises.

The funds are then invested back into Stirling city centre to develop projects and events aimed at increasing footfall plus grants and schemes to improve the city centre environment for shoppers and retailers alike.

During recent months, Go Forth has been supported in its work by the COVID-19 BIDs Resilience Fund. The funding package, administered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership via Scotland’s Improvement Districts, aims to help the country’s 37 active BIDs play a vital role in supporting businesses and town centres during the crisis.

In Stirling this has led to the host of initiatives already implemented while plans are now underway for new projects.

These include the launch of an `Independent Stirling’ campaign highlighting the city’s wealth of independent businesses and the stories behind them.

Go Forth Stirling Business Improvement District (BID) represents close to 400 local businesses with a key objective of delivering projects and services which improve the area’s trading environment to benefit businesses, shoppers and visitors. 

The BID was set up in September 2017 following a vote among the city’s traders and runs for an initial five-year term.

For more details visit www.goforthstirling.co.uk

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