Here is latest news of the campaign.
Statutory Registration Scheme
A key component of the national campaign is statutory registration to ensure that all shared economy providers are safe and legal. So it is encouraging that, this week, AirBnB announced a national roadshow involving ‘senior regional stakeholders’ to consider what a national registration scheme could look like. Details provided by The South West Tourism Alliance are as follows:
Consultants, BritainThinks, is conducting an independent consultation on the implementation of a registration scheme for short-term lets in the UK, where communities need it. The consultation has been commissioned by Airbnb and they are working in collaboration with the University of Brighton as an academic partner. Airbnb will use the findings to inform a white paper setting out recommendations to the UK Government. As part of the consultation, BritainThinks will be hosting a series of roundtable consultations across the country to discuss the proposal and listen to key stakeholders’ perspectives. The consultations will take place in the following hub locations with participants invited from the wider geographical area.
- South of England (Brighton and Hove)
- Wales (Cardiff)
- South West England (Plymouth)
- West of England (Bristol)
- North of England (Manchester)
- Midlands (Birmingham)
- Scotland (Glasgow)
Each round table consultation will aim to include a cross section of senior regional stakeholders, including local authorities and business and residents’ representatives. For those not included in this list, there will be the option of participating in a digital consultation via an online portal. Findings from the roundtable consultations will shape the recommendations adopted by Airbnb for the design of the national registration scheme.
With the change in direction from AirBnB we need to reassess how we make sure they aren’t allowed to ‘lead’ the agenda on registration. Their goal for this will be very different from ours - it will probably be a voluntary scheme with the lightest of touches and merely a nod to safety of guests. Their ultimate priority is to continue to grow property listings and everything they do is focused on this continuing growth. Our kind of statutory registration, with safe and legal at its centre, is unlikely to align with this.
This said, AirBnB’s registration initiative does give us as a chance to accelerate the conversation about registration and for us to provide our evidence, so that the roundtable consultation can come to a balanced conclusion.
Our suggestion is that we do the following so that we too have run a consultation, not just into registration but the broader impact on the industry too.
1. Propose and agree a Statutory Registration scheme that meets the following requirements:
- Is inexpensive for the operator, so perhaps £50-£100 per annum
- Is light touch, but covers the key Safe and Legal requirements and discloses ownership of the property
- Can be easily managed by Local Authorities. (They would receive the income)
A South West Tourism Alliance ‘work in progress’ document will be provided shortly on this.
2. In parallel we pull together an Industry Consultation of our own, as a balance to the AirBnB consultation.
The South West Tourism Alliance and its partners don’t have the resources, or the time to match what they are doing. However, the proposal is to create a Survey Monkey based consultation, that we could all circulate to get a meaningful data input. The questions would need to be fair and balanced, but could legitimately ask the following kind of questions: (These are just examples)
- What has been the impact of the gig economy in your area?
- What impact has the gig economy had on your pricing?
- Should properties that were available for short term lets have to comply with safety regulations, even if only let for occasional nights?
Each partner would then circulate the link to the Survey to their business networks to maximise the response.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Consultation into Tax reporting Rules for the Sharing Economy
At last some real movement here to. The OECD is proposing new tax reporting rules for sharing economy platforms. Until now it's been easy for e.g. AirBnB hosts to evade tax on their income but it looks like that loophole could be closed.
This is quite a short consultation, it closes on Friday the 20th March.