Yorkshire Coast DBID hits back at comments on why it is not suspending levy on tourist businesses
The company behind the Yorkshire Coast Business Improvement District (BID) has said it is up to the Government to suspend levies, not it.
The company was responding to Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill who yesterday said it was “outrageous” that money would still be collected from more than 1,300 businesses on the coast.
Scarborough Council had also called on the BID company to stop collecting the payments during the coronavirus crisis.
In response, a spokesman for the BID company said: “We are disappointed to see the misleading and inaccurate information that has been printed recently regarding the Yorkshire Coast BID’s position in relation to the collection of levy payments at this difficult time.
“We would like to make it very clear that currently, BIDs are legally unable to unilaterally apply discounts or suspend levy payments. To say that we have refused to suspend levy payments in light of the Covid-19 outbreak is factually incorrect and potentially damaging to the local businesses in the community during these uncertain times. We simply cannot suspend payments without government legislation.
“We are in fact supporting the national BID institutions who have written to the Secretary of State to request central government to enact legislation to allow payment holidays, akin to those which have already been applied to business rates, as well as requesting a VAT refund to give businesses a much-needed financial injection over the coming months.
“Additionally, we have written to all of our Yorkshire Coast councils and requested the support of our MPs requesting that they back our appeal and the national BID agenda. If successful, we can apply this from August 2020.
“We are very aware of people’s concerns surrounding Covid-19 and the uncertainty this unprecedented situation is causing, and as such we are not actively chasing any outstanding liabilities at this time.
“We have been in regular contact with BIDs around the UK since Covid-19 measures were announced and as ever together we are supporting resilience, innovation, and care for local businesses and communities, in the toughest of circumstances.
“Our number one focus currently is looking at ways we can provide ongoing help and tangible support to businesses through this difficult time such as the new agreement with ShopAppy.com and Yorkshire in Business.
“We hope that this provides complete clarity on the matter and we will continue to be transparent and issue regular updates direct to our valued members and via our website.
“At this difficult time, we ask that we all work collaboratively and in partnership because together we are stronger.”
Mr Goodwill, in response, said that while legislation was being drafted to stop the payments he felt the BID should still stop collecting levies.
He said: “Nobody is going to take legal action against them if they don’t take payments.
“These are unprecedented times and the way to support the businesses now is to stop collecting the levy.
“I have spoken to [Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government] Robert Jenrick about this and we are in agreement.
“The council wants payments stopped, the businesses want them stopped and I cannot see why they have not been.”
The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been approached for comment.