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New Deal for Business?

An excerpt from the ASSC’s consultation response in August 2021 below:


1.1.  Before commenting on the draft Licensing Order itself, we wish to formally record our deep concern with what we see as the total lack of meaningful industry engagement in the period between the last-minute withdrawal of the original draft Order in February 2021 and the publication of this consultation.

1.2.  Withdrawal of the previous draft Order was in response to the unprecedentedly high level of individual objections and by the reasoned concerns of the ASSC and other major tourism stakeholders. On paper, this seemed to provide an ideal opportunity for the industry and the Scottish Government to work together to produce an alternative that would be fit for purpose and workable in practice.

1.3.  The Scottish Government promised to engage with, and listen to, our industry. To do so, the Short- Term Let Working Group was established “to identify and resolve stakeholder issues and concerns” and “to make suggestions to the Scottish Government on any changes to legislation which may be needed”. [1] But to our dismay, contrary to commitments made by the Scottish Government, the Working Group has failed to listen to and address our concerns and those of other stakeholders [2], nor has it addressed concerns previously raised in the ASSC’s detailed evidence submitted to the Local Government and Communities Committee earlier this year.

1.4.  In particular, through the Working Group, the ASSC has with unprecedented industry support, submitted detailed and practical proposals for a robust mandatory registration scheme which would require businesses to comply with all the proposed mandatory licensing conditions, including in particular those relating to health and safety and to nuisance. This would meet the Scottish Government’s stated policy objectives for licensing, but in a way that would avoid the serious irreparable damage to our industry, to Scottish tourism generally, and to the local economies that tourism supports.

1.5.  To be clear, the ASSC are not against appropriate regulation of the short-term letting sector. Indeed, we first proposed registration in October 2017. In addition, recognising the need to address legitimate concerns over the separate, localised, issues of the recent proliferation of city centre short-term lets and the negative local impact of second home ownership in certain places (which ironically licensing as opposed to registration would make worse) we supported in principle the introduction of the power to create local short-term let planning control areas where appropriate. What we are against is bad regulation that will fundamentally damage tourism in Scotland and the thousands of small businesses which form the backbone of our industry.

1.6.  Unfortunately, the Scottish Government casually dismissed the ASSC’s registration proposals out of hand without discussion or even any proper explanation, other than suggesting it would be more complicated. Now, in this new consultation – the Scottish Government’s third in recent years – the original licensing proposals have simply been restated with a few amendments that, if anything, make the proposals worse for self-catering operators and the other tourism businesses that have now been caught by the legislation – such as B&Bs and some small guest houses.

1.7.  On this evidence, we can only conclude that the purpose of setting up a Working Group was simply to give the external impression of industry involvement rather than listen to those who actually understand the industry and the wider real-world consequences of the proposed legislation.

1.8.  As a national association representing over 1,300 professional self-caterers, we are saddened to have felt disregarded and dismissed on nearly every point we have made. Assurances made to MSPs, the electorate and Industry bodies that unintended consequences would be identified and changes made appear to us to have counted for nothing.

1.9.  Page 45 of the Draft BRIA: Declaration and Publication states that:

“I have read the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that (a) it represents a fair and reasonable view of the expected costs, benefits and impact of the policy, and (b) that the benefits justify the costs. I am satisfied that business impact has been assessed with the support of businesses in Scotland.” Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison, MSP.

1.10.  This is simply not the correct. The BRIA is NOT supported by businesses, or tourism bodies in Scotland. If it were, the ASSC, the Scottish B&B Association, Airbnb and UK Short-Term Accommodation Association would not have resigned from the Short-Term Let Working Group.

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