Suggestions for Points to Make to MSPs regarding the STL Legislation
As you are aware, the Scottish Government are progressing with their consultation on short-term let regulation despite the impact of Covid-19 on Scottish tourism and the numerous restrictions that have been placed on our industry. The consultation closes on Friday 16th October and we would strongly encourage you to submit evidence if you haven’t already done so.
In tandem with this, you may wish to write to your local MSP to raise their awareness of the short-term let consultation, flagging your concerns with the manner in which it has been conducted and why it is proceeding at such a pace given Covid-19, as well as to highlight the negative consequences that will follow from the introduction of short-term let licensing.
Below you can find some key points to help inform your letter. This is focused on three areas: (a) concerns with the consultation process; (b) concerns with the lack of proper scrutiny; and (c) the consequences of the regulations.
- The consultation was only open for a little more than 4 weeks, as opposed to the standard 12-week process, at a time when many businesses are struggling for survival due to Covid-19 restrictions.
- The short-term let consultation has been taken forward at a time when other pieces of key legislation, such as the Transient Visitor Levy, have been halted.
- There is no reference in the consultation document to the impact of Covid-19 on Scottish tourism.
- There is currently no Business Regulatory Impact Assessment to accompany the proposals on licensing and planning. We do not have an up to date assessment of what these regulations will cost operators, businesses and local councils.
Lack of Scrutiny
- Introducing short-term let licensing and planning restrictions is not a straightforward task but one that necessitates detailed scrutiny of the proposed regulations.
- The consultation has been truncated and there is a similarly quick timetable associated with the scrutiny of the secondary legislation which will be laid in Parliament in December 2020.
- Proper scrutiny of the regulations matters as the self-catering sector is worth £723m to the Scottish economy and the livelihoods of operators and their families is at stake.
Consequences of the Regulations
- The regulations will add more burdens and bureaucracy for a sector that is already regulated and one which is suffering from the impact of Covid-19 (including existing/contemplated restrictions). It will be the final straw for many operators across Scotland, including many in our rural and remote communities.
- A licensing system is a blunt tool to fix a perceived and localised problem of amateur operators in Edinburgh, rather than being a solution that is appropriate for the whole of the Scotland, nor is it one that makes a necessary distinction between different types of visitor accommodation providers.
- Due to the impact of Covid-19, the potential pitfalls and shortcomings of licensing come into sharper focus in two main respects: (a) the impact for resource stretched local authorities having to deal with an influx of tens of thousands of licensing applications; and (b) the impact any disproportionate licensing system could have on the recovery of Scottish tourism.
- In terms of the economic impact, it cannot be limited to self-caterers alone but to the many businesses in local communities that benefit from the footfall of our guests (e.g. cafes, pubs, restaurants, farm shops, visitor attractions) and the wider supply chain associated with our properties (e.g. cleaners, housekeepers etc) if a regulatory framework is introduced that damages self-catering.
You can supplement and personalise your letter with your own lived experience of working in self-catering and how you believe these regulations will affect your business and livelihood.
You can find your local representatives by using the following tool on the Scottish Parliament website: https://beta.parliament.scot/msps/current-and-previous-msps
Thank you in advance,
Fiona Campbell, ASSC CEO