Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill: equality impact assessment

The results of the equality impact assessment (EQIA) undertaken in respect of the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill.

Recommendations and Conclusion

Scottish Government is of the opinion that there are some groups of people that should not have to pay a VL. These groups are:

  • People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • People whose main residence is unfit for habitation
  • Asylum seekers and refugees
  • Individuals who have arrived in the UK through other Home Office schemes, such as the Afghan resettlement scheme and the Homes for Ukraine scheme
  • members of the Gypsy/Traveller community staying on dedicated sites.

The Bill has been written in such a way that these groups should not be liable to pay a VL if a local authority introduces one. This is because the Bill defines overnight accommodation as a room, space or other accommodation at a type of premises that is provided for residential purposes otherwise than as the individual's only or usual place of residence. This wording means that in most cases it will exclude individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, refuges and asylum seekers and Gypsy/Traveller communities from being liable to pay the levy. We have also excluded local authority and registered social landlord Gypsy/Traveller sites from the list of eligible accommodation types.

As the decision to introduce a VL will be for a local authority the Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that councils have a suitable level of flexibility over the design of their VL scheme within the legislative framework created by the Bill. Therefore, the Bill will provide local authorities with the discretionary power to establish exemptions which they consider appropriate for local circumstances. This ensures that local authorities, as the developers and administrators of a VL scheme, can design a system of local exemptions that is both suitable to their communities and practicable to administer and enforce. To support local authorities, we are committed to developing guidance on the implementation of a VL with local government and industry stakeholders, including on exemptions.

There will be a statutory requirement on local authorities to assess the impact of any VL before it is introduced, and it is anticipated that this will provide an opportunity to identify the appropriate local exemptions.

Should the need arise for specific national exemptions during the implementation of the Act, the Bill also contains a delegated power for Scottish Ministers to introduce national exemptions via secondary legislation.


The EQIA process has helped to consider the potential positive and negative impacts of the Bill on those with protected characteristics.

It concluded there is potential that a VL could potentially have a direct or indirect negative affect on some of the protected characteristic groups covered in the Equality Act 2010, and led to these impacts being addressed. These impacts are set out in brief below, together with the steps that we have taken to mitigate these impacts.

  • Design of Levy – Percentage charge on overnight accommodation; The rate of a VL will be a percentage charge, making it proportionate to the price of the accommodation. This ensures that visitors booking budget accommodation will not be unfairly penalised (as would be the case with a flat fee charge). Importantly a VL will only be charged on overnight accommodation which is not a person's usual or main place of residence. This means that people who are using overnight accommodation as their usual or main place of residence will not have the pay a VL if a local authority introduces one. Gypsy/Traveller sites provided by a local authority or Registered Social Landlord will also not be covered by any VL.
  • Local Exemptions; the Bill will provide Local Authorities with powers to designate local exemptions for their visitor levy. This allows a local authority to tailor the levy to their specific circumstances.
  • National Guidance; working with local government and the tourist industry, we will develop national implementation guidance to support local authorities in establishing VL schemes. This will include guidance and best practice on local exemptions.
  • National Exemptions; the Bill will provide Scottish Ministers with a power to create national exemptions through secondary legislation, if necessary.



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