A BID, or a Business Improvement District is a geographically defined area where businesses come together and agree to invest collectively in projects which they believe will help to improve their trading environment.

BIDs are fully supported by the Scottish Government and they came into force in Scotland in 2007 as a result of primary legislation in Part 9 of the Planning Act etc (Scotland) 2006 and other secondary legislation.

Each business within a BID area pays a levy, based on the rateable value of their premises. The funds raised from this levy are then used to pay for the agreed activities and projects to promote the businesses within the area.

BID’s are developed and managed by local business owners on a democratic basis. Before a BID can come into existence, a ballot has to be held in which eligible local business owners can vote either for or against the creation of a BID. Needless to say, a favourable majority is needed in order for a BID to be established.


BIDs first started in Bloor West Village, Toronto, Canada forty years ago. The town’s businesses were increasingly under pressure from out of town shopping centres, diverting people away from the traditional shopping of the town centre. The town went into decline and some businesses were forced to cease trading. Local businesses decided that enough was enough and that they would fight back to revitalise the town. They successfully lobbied for legislation for all the businesses in the proposed BID area to pay a levy. This money was then used to improve the physical appearance of the town and then to promote it as a vibrant, attractive and safe place to work, shop and live. The strategy paid off and large numbers of shoppers started to return to the town centre. This success paved the way for further BIDs, not only in Canada, but throughout the world. Today there are more than 1700 successful BIDs worldwide.

BIDs legislation was passed in Scotland in 2006 with the Scottish Government funding six pilot projects. The latest figures available are for March 2017 when there were 36 fully operational BIDs in Scotland with a further 24 in development. To find out more about other BIDs in Scotland click here https://www.bids-scotland.com/