The government will now amend the date by which existing operators must apply for a licence from 1 April 2023 to 1 October 2023. This was confirmed in a letter from the Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison to the Convener of the Local Government Committee Ariane Burgess.
This six-month extension was only made possible after pressure applied by the ASSC and other tourism stakeholders due to the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the industry.
Small accommodation providers were enduring onerous and expensive red tape just to continue what they had been doing for decades. This additional expense, in the context of Covid recovery and the cost crisis, placed severe pressure on the sector.
Operators were faced by eye-watering fees in a confusing and inconsistent system, jeopardising jobs and livelihoods in an important part of Scotland’s tourism industry. The self-catering sector boosts the Scottish economy by £867m per annum, supporting 24,000 jobs. It provides a vital source of alternative accommodation for major events like the Edinburgh Festivals whose future viability remains at risk due to draconian short-term let regulations.
Elsewhere, the UK Government have committed to a less onerous registration scheme, while the European Commission have outlined proposals on regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services.
While this delay will provide some momentary respite for the self-catering industry, the ASSC believes the Scottish Government must work in lockstep with industry and local councils to minimise the regulatory burden to support small business.
Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive of the Association of Self-Caterers, said:
“The ASSC welcomes this announcement by the Scottish Government and we are pleased our hard work, as well as the efforts from our friends across the Scottish tourism industry, has resulted in this development. The ASSC has been pressing hard for a pause to the implementation of the scheme due to the cost-of-living crisis so it’s good to know our voices are being heard.
Our ongoing concern, however, is that it is not long enough to give our members the breathing space they need to get their license applications approved in the current climate. We do see this as progress and we will continue to push forward on behalf of our members, we know there’s lots of work still to do.”
Andy Fenner, CEO of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA), said:
“We are pleased that the Scottish Government has made its decision for a 6 month delay to the deadline by which existing operators in the short term holiday lets sector have to apply for a license. We have worked alongside the ASSC and the wider Scottish tourism industry to present constructive opposition to this unnecessarily onerous scheme and the potentially negative impact it is going to have on the livelihoods of current operators, enduring the cost of living crisis, and the damage it could have on Scotland’s tourism economy. We have already heard from the likes of the Edinburgh Festival that its future is threatened because this licensing scheme will effectively limit the amount of accommodation on offer to visitors.
“We are in favour of a much more pragmatic and less onerous registration scheme like the one the UK Government plans to introduce, which is very much along the lines that we have campaigned for. Ultimately, we believe that the Scottish Government would be much better advised to introduce this sort of scheme than its proposed unwieldy licensing scheme.”
What it means to our members:
“May I offer my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the work you have done on our behalf , this makes an incredible difference to us as a business and if I may say it is the best Christmas present we could receive .!
As an organisation , your tenacity and diligence throughout has been outstanding and I’m sure I speak for many others as well as myself when I say we are so very grateful to you all .
With kindest Regards and wishing you a happy and relaxed Christmastime”