Last week the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on tourism, leisure & the hospitality industry followed up on its interim report of March 2018 with the publication of its final report in to the findings of its sharing economy in tourism inquiry.
The committee and its secretariat should be commended for producing an excellent document that highlights the key issues relating to the sharing economy’s impacts on the tourism industry, on customers and on host communities. It makes 14 recommendations, that include: investigation by DCMS of the merits of the introduction of a statutory registration scheme for all accommodation provision, the introduction of powers (already granted in London) that allow local authorities to set local limits on the maximum number of days properties can be, “used for tourism accommodation” (offered or let?) and a new option that would require, “the owner to be present if a property is used for tourism accommodation” (an owner occupier/main residency restriction?). Some of the recommendations do require further investigation and refinement but, nonetheless, the majority are very soundly based.
At c 26-pages the report is well worth reading in full. For those who need a more immediate overview the executive summary pages 5 to 7 and the full list of recommendations pages 25 to 26 combined are recommended reading:
Additional points to note from me:
- Although this report is an excellent and much-needed lobbying tool, it does not have the official authority of a Parliamentary Select Committee report. These at least require a formal Government response without any further action, however bland or dismissive those response might occasionally prove to be. Therefore, the report on its own takes us no further forward; progress now depends entirely on how we and others use the report to influence opinion and future policy.
- The report is released at a time and in an environment where BREXIT issues dominate the political agenda and where there is little immediate scope for anything else non-Brexit related. However, compelling the report is, only its arguments concerning tax take are likely to find immediate favour, especially since HMRC have just conducted its own consultation on improving the tax system within the sharing and gig economies. Therefore, unless it is tax revenue related, don’t expect any major changes to be made to policies on the sharing economy soon.
- The main recommendations made represent an increase in regulation and (Local) Government powers. This doesn’t necessarily sit well with current administration’s underlying political ethos of less regulation and smaller government. Therefore, change is going to have to be hard-fought for and/or come as much if not more from the sharing accommodation platforms themselves. (self or voluntary controls being the usually preferred route).
Regardless of the limitations above, the principle of pushing for more regulation to achieve a level regulatory playing field for business and consistently safe environment for all consumers are well worth pursuing further because: governments and government policies within them can and do change over time and critically because all the available evidence, domestic and international, points towards the fact that the relatively few major disruptive technology providers involved will only willingly respond voluntarily if and when they are faced with the credible prospect of enforced regulatory controls. To get either a voluntary or a regulatory solution in place in these circumstances we have little choice but to continue to press for robust, regulatory solutions as our starting point and see what actually emerges as consequence.
For more background information and articles on the sharing economy see our webpage: