Foreword by Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
I am pleased to present this consultation paper, seeking final views on the revised draft Licensing Order and draft Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA).
Back in February, Kevin Stewart MSP, the then Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning withdrew the original Licensing Order from the Scottish Parliament in order to address concerns that had been raised by members and stakeholders. At the same time, he announced the establishment of a stakeholder working group to help develop guidance for hosts and operators, local authorities and platforms.
The stakeholder working group was also tasked with considering any necessary changes to the legislation, ahead of laying the revised Licensing Order, alongside draft guidance, in June.
The stakeholder working group met in February, March and May and has provided significant input into shaping the guidance, and suggesting changes to the legislation. I am grateful to all working group members for sharing their time, knowledge and expertise with my officials, in order to help us get the legislation and guidance right.
We have made a number of changes to the legislation based on suggestions made by members of the stakeholder working group. However, we now intend to lay the Licensing Order in September so that we can consult on it over the summer. This will help us to get this important legislation absolutely right.
We have proposed, in the draft legislation, to push back the date on which licensing authorities must have a licensing scheme open to receive applications to 1 October 2022. This is to give them sufficient time to prepare, given that the Licensing Order and guidance will not be in final form until the autumn of this year.
However, we are not proposing to change the 1 April 2023 date by which existing hosts and operators must have applied for a licence in order to keep operating, nor the 1 April 2024 date by which all short-term lets in Scotland must be licensed. These deadlines are the more significant ones for residents and communities. Any issues from short-term lets they currently face will be caused by existing hosts and operators, to which these deadlines apply.
We have also, today, published a draft Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) for consultation. I appreciate that stakeholders did not get an opportunity to comment on the BRIA as part of the 2020 consultation and I would like to give people the opportunity to do so now.
In addition to the consultation, we have also published draft guidance on the licensing scheme and planning control areas for hosts and operators, local authorities and platforms. This guidance is intended to clear, comprehensive and helpful, and has been shaped by valuable input from the range of stakeholders represented on the working group.
This government has always stressed striking the balance between the needs of local communities and wider economic and tourism interests. I believe our proposals, having been refined and improved following feedback from the working group, do this.