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Next First Minister Must Seize the Initiative and Save Scottish Self-Catering

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) has written to the SNP candidates in the leadership campaign:

“The ASSC represents over 1,700 members, operating self-catering properties throughout Scotland, all of whom contribute to a £876m annual boost to the Scottish economy. Despite a cost-of-living crisis and need for Covid recovery, these hardworking professional owners face a regulatory burden which is placing livelihoods under immense strain. However, the ASSC firmly believes that the election of a new First Minister provides an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved but also reflect on what more we can do support small business for a sustainable recovery, especially during these challenging times.

The lived experiences of our members matter and the ASSC has been inundated with messages voicing concerns about how government regulation will render businesses unviable. They have encountered a never-ending juggernaut of regulation, from short-term let licensing, planning control areas, local planning policies, to the new National Planning Framework 4 Policy 30, the 2023 Rateable Value and changes to Small Business Bonus Scheme – and that’s before we consider the possibility of a local visitor levy. It is relentless and seemingly never-ending. The impact on cashflow and business viability is under extreme strain at a time that consumer confidence is at an all-time low and bookings are patchy.

This is an issue that touches all parts of Scotland, affecting businesses in rural and remote areas which rely on tourism spend, to urban areas such as our capital which hosts world-leading arts and cultural events. Recently, major venue operators at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe warned that “unless secondary letting is also available in all types of property, including tenement stairs, there will simply not be enough accommodation for August’s Festivals”. This is a stark warning which should not go unheeded.

Many of the unintended consequences now sadly coming to pass were first articulated by the ASSC and other tourism stakeholders years ago. Indeed, despite commitments to ease the regulatory burden, we need a reset in business-governmental relations so action can follow on from mere words. There is now a real opportunity to prepare regulations that fulfil the original policy objectives of short-term let licensing – to uphold health and safety standards – in a manner which doesn’t harm our tourist economy. We therefore ask that you consider the following recommendations:

  • Commit to an immediate halt of short-term let licensing recognising the ongoing impact of Covid recovery on the self-catering sector in Scotland and cost-of-living crisis, and lack of preparedness by local authorities; and
  • Commit to a full and thorough sector wide engagement to agree a new way forward based on mutual respect and partnership which meets the requirements of government without the costs, bureaucracy and unnecessary additional regulations which the current legislation imposes.

Genuine and meaningful partnership working can deliver beneficial results. We want Scotland to be a leader in smart regulation which balances the needs of our economy and communities, not one which is burdensome and other countries seek to avoid as an example of bad practice.  We must strive to work collaboratively to protect Scotland’s £867m self-catering industry and not burden small businesses who do so much to promote and enhance the country’s unique tourism offering and boost local economies.

The ASSC wishes you all the very best of luck during the leadership contest and looks forward to working with you and your colleagues in the years ahead.

Yours sincerely,

Fiona Campbell, CEO, Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers”


Scottish Housing News, New First Minister ‘must seize initiative and save Scotland’s self-catering industry’, 06/03/23

Scottish Business News, ASSC: New First Minister must seize the initiative and save Scotland’s self-catering industry, 06/03/23

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