ANDOVER’S Business Improvement District (BID) has said it will help a charitable organisation in the town, after concerns were raised that it had been asked to pay the town centre levy.

A source, who did not wish to be identified, told the Advertiser than an Andover not-for-profit organisation had recently been struck with a notice asking it to pay the BID tax, required by all businesses in the town centre, despite its small size and limited operating hours.

This newspaper has since uncovered that the charity in question is Andover Clothing Exchange (ACE), which has a base on the High Street.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Steve Godwin, manager of the Andover BID, said: “All the businesses in the area we cover pay an annual BID levy, dependent on their rateable value.

“If a building is empty, the landlord becomes responsible for the BID levy. What has happened in this case, is that the landlord has let them use the building, but because they are the tenant, they become the person that has to pay the levy.

“I think that it’s absolutely right that big charities have to pay it, because they already get big reductions in taxes, but ACE are a not-for-profit community interest group, rather than a charity, so we will be doing something to help them so that they do not pay the levy.”

When asked what the BID board intends to do, Steve added: “I do not have the jurisdiction about being able to waive the levy, but I am totally sympathetic to this situation.

“It’s unfortunate for ACE that they are in a huge building, but they are only opening one day a week. We do not want to cause them any distress, so we will be speaking to them and we would look to pursue the BID levy through the landlord instead.”

According to government guidance, 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.

The tax itself is collected by Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC).

A council spokesperson, said: “TVBC issues bills and collects money for the BID levy on behalf of Andover BID and all of the money collected is transferred to the BID company on a quarterly basis.

“TVBC has no powers to offer discounts or exemptions to anyone liable for the BID. Only the BID company can make a decision to reduce the amount due and any enquiries regarding this matter should be addressed to them.

“We are aware that the BID are considering a number of applications.”

The Advertiser has contacted Andover Clothing Exchange for comment.