Scarborough Council calls on Yorkshire Coast BID to suspend business levy 'for small period' due to energy costs

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Scarborough Councillors have called on the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (YCBID) to suspend the collection of a mandatory levy from businesses in the area.

The Yorkshire Coast BID has not said whether it will stop collecting a levy from local businesses after councillors called for a pause “for a small period of time” owing to rising energy costs.

Speaking at the full meeting of the authority on September 5, Cllr Bill Chatt said: “In consideration of the government’s prediction of an up to an eight-fold increase in energy prices, will this council suspend the collection of the Yorkshire Coast DBID levy?”

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Council leader, Cllr Steve Siddons, replied that it was “not unreasonable for that to happen” but added that Scarborough Council was “under statutory obligation to collect the DBID levy” and a decision on suspension would have to be made by the BID.

Cllr Steve Siddons pictured at Scarborough Town Hall.Cllr Steve Siddons pictured at Scarborough Town Hall.
Cllr Steve Siddons pictured at Scarborough Town Hall.

In July, the council passed a motion of no confidence in the BID and called for its “speedy closure” in light of pressure from businesses and concerns about spending and accountability, although the BID has defended its record, saying it has invested heavily in Scarborough.

The BID was established as a private, not-for-profit company governed by a board of volunteer directors, but many businesses have criticised the scheme which sought to raise around £5m through a business levy, with plans to put the money back into the communities.

The 1.5 per cent mandatory levy affects every retail, leisure, accommodation, and food and drink organisation with a rateable value of £12,000 and above in the YCBID area, which runs from Staithes in the north to Spurn Point in East Riding at its southern point.

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Cllr Bill Chatt asked that the council leader meet with the chair of the BID to ask for a suspension of the levy.

He said: “I think it would only be fair with such a large reserve in the bank, that [YCBID] stop collecting for a small period of time to give our businesses a chance to readjust to these price increases.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the chair of the YCBID, Clive Rowe-Evans, did not say whether a suspension of the levy would be considered.

“We’re very aware of the pressures that are facing all businesses given the rising energy prices and are sympathetic to that fact,” said Mr Rowe-Evans.

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He added: “For this exact reason, we’ve joined forces as part of the #BusinessSOS campaign, with other organisations that represent over 150,000 retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses across the UK.

“The campaign has launched in order to urge the Government to act on such matters, which are proving more detrimental to businesses than the pandemic, with a three-point-plan to support ailing businesses.”

The three-point plan calls for a VAT reduction from 20 per cent to 12.5 per cent as well as a 15 per cent reduction of energy bills to “match domestic billing”.

The plan also calls for a 100 per business rate relief until the end of March next year and a discounted kWh price on all business energy bills.

Cllr Siddons said he had “no hesitation” in meeting with the chair of the BID and would “keep going back and we’ll keep trying that”.