Sharing economy faces heightened scrutiny from ministers

Sharing economy faces heightened scrutiny from ministers

Ministers are “looking at enforcement” of regulations on peer-to-peer businesses such as Airbnb, according to the government’s head of tourism.

Lise-Anne Boissiere, head of tourism and heritage at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, told a Policy-UK conference last week: “I know the industry is divided on the benefits Airbnb brings.”

Responding to David Weston, chief executive of the Bed and Breakfast Association, Boissiere said: “People tell us the regulations are uneven. But there isn’t a disparity of regulation. So we are looking at the issue of enforcement.”

Weston told Boissiere: “It galls people to hear ministers cheerleading for new sectors not burdened by the regulations and taxation our sector is. To see the unregulated sector coming in and government ministers saying ‘How brilliant. How do they grow so fast?’ We could all grow fast without taxation.”

But Boissiere insisted: “Regulations do apply. It’s not an unregulated sector. I don’t want to say there is an enforcement problem, [but] we are looking at it.”

Paul Sawbridge, chairman of UK hotel group Alfa Leisureplex, said: “This is not just about local authorities failing to apply regulations [on Airbnbhosts]. The fundamental problem is tax. The sharing economy is the tax-dodging economy.”

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