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ASSC’s Rebuttal of Evidence Provided by Witnesses on 14th December 2021

ASSC’s Rebuttal of Evidence Provided by Witnesses on 14th December 2021

The opinions provided on 14th December to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee – for that is all they were; certainly not evidence – were extremely shocking both in terms of tone and content. The blatant hostility and antipathy levelled at small tourism accommodation providers was astonishing to behold. The self-confessed lack of evidence from supporters of the legislation provides nothing to back up their position, and yet is being given equal weight to the hard data and evidence provided by industry.

The Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers (ASSC) has received numerous comments from members across Scotland expressing their shock at the vitriol expressed by the witnesses towards small tourism accommodation owners. These are micro businesses caught up in the perfect storm of the damaging economic impact of COVID, in an already fragile rural economy – and now impacted by regulations whose aim has been expressly stated as being to ‘manage [them] down’; or, in other words, to put them out of business.

Due to the level of unsubstantiated claims, generalisations and misrepresentations of our sector, the ASSC were compelled to provide a rebuttal so that the Committee have a full appreciation of the facts.

Further to its consultation responses, as well as written evidence to the LGHP Committee, the  ASSC has provided evidence that short-term let licensing legislation will detrimentally effect thousands of operators, whether self-caterers or indeed home sharers, for no measurable benefit.

Our key concerns about the evidence provided by witnesses covers seven themes:

  1. Lack of understanding of sector
  2. Economic Impact
  3. Lack of data
  4. Impact on Local Authorities
  5. Anti-social Behaviour
  6. Housing
  7. ASSC’s Registration and Exemption Proposal

Summary of Concerns

  • There is a general consensus from witnesses that the vast majority of operators are professional and compliant, yet there is also an assumption that operators are “unscrupulous”, “poorly regulated or poorly managed”. These contradictory positions cannot hold.
  • ASSC members, many of whom have been operating for decades, refute the allegation that the sector is the “Wild West” and at they are “unscrupulous”.
  • The accusation of drug dealing, sex trafficking and puppy farming is offensive and unsubstantiated.
  • The value of the sector has been undermined and witnesses suggest that is provides no value to the Scottish economy or local communities – our businesses will seemingly not be missed.
  • Witnesses evidenced a lack of understanding of the traditional accommodation sector or short-term lets, with repeated discussion regarding one online platform as being ‘the industry’.
  • Witnesses evidenced a lack of understanding of existing regulations – in relation to anti-social behaviour and health and safety, as well as evidencing confusion of what it is the legislation is attempting to address
  • There is no evidence or data of the impact of short-term lets on housing
  • There is no evidence whatsoever to underpin a “reason of general interest”, which is legally required when introducing licensing legislation
  • Discussion regarding global corporations and large businesses does not reflect ASSC or Scottish Bed & Breakfast (SBBA) membership – they are micro businesses that have been part of communities for decades
  • Contrary to assertions from the panel that industry has fought against regulation, the ASSC proposed registration, transparency and health and safety compliance in 2017
  • Witnesses confirmed that the legislation will prove challenging to local authorities
  • Only one local authority perspective (Edinburgh, a longstanding supporter of licensing) has been provided as oral evidence, while the Committee’s survey results and consultation responses show considerable concern from other local councils about the impact of licensing.
  • Toxic comments from witnesses looking at cases in isolation have caused deep concern from professional legitimate businesses across Scotland

Read the Rebuttle in Full Here:

Rebuttal of Evidence Provided by Witnesses on 14th December 2021

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