01 Dec 23

A trade body representing short lets operators has slammed government housing failures.

The Short Term Accommodation Association says it’s analysed local authority data which shows the potential for almost two million homes – properties which have not been acted upon because of a lack of government funding for social housing.

The STAA analysed 294 Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments, Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessments, or their equivalents. 

The supply of new homes they identify include those with and without planning permission that are seen as ‘deliverable’ by the authority. Councils are required to regularly demonstrate how they plan to meet local housing needs over the coming five years and beyond.

The STAA says recent criticism of Airbnb and similar platforms, and the holiday let industry in general, is a smokescreen by the government to try to hide its own failures.

A statement from the association says: “The STAA believes that, while a registration scheme for all tourist accommodation providers would be positive, the proposals, which include a planning requirement for short term lets, have been borne out of attempts to distract voters from the inability of national and local government to ensure enough new housing is provided fast enough. 

“The total pipeline of potential new homes dwarfs the numbers actually being built, with only 178,010 completed across England last year. The total number of homes in England is 25.2 million — but 676,304 of these are vacant (248,149 of them long-term).”

This year the government conducted a consultation on a registration scheme and new planning requirements for short term lets in England. The STAA is calling for a registration scheme for all hotel and lodging operators, which would provide the basis for any future hospitality tourism tax. 

The short term rental sector contributed £27.7 billion to the UK economy in 2021, directly supporting 94,000 jobs, according to Oxford Economics.

Andy Fenner, chief executive of the STAA, says: “We know there’s a housing crisis, what we can’t understand is why no one’s doing anything about it. Homes are just waiting to be built, but housebuilding in this country continues at a snail’s pace.

“Meanwhile one of the most vibrant parts of the tourism industry is taking the blame and that’s a mistake. Councils routinely talk about housing need but that doesn’t address the fundamental feature of a housing crisis, which is that there aren’t enough homes at affordable prices. 

“Only housebuilding and a proper remedy for the scourge of empty homes will give the country what it needs, which is new supply. Only then will it be seen that, to solve the housing crisis, we don’t need to disrupt one of the most exciting new parts of the tourism economy.

“Singling out holiday let industry is a move against tourism itself and we look forward to forging a better way ahead with the next government. It would be a real shame, and a blow to tourism itself, if England followed Scotland’s example, where holiday let owners who bring both money and jobs into local economies are now being punished and deterred from operating.”

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