The UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) has submitted a five-point plan to government to help the sector recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Discussions with the government, specifically the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), are continuing on how to get the short-term rental sector back on its feet as lockdown restrictions are eased, the STAA said.

It said government measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Bounce Back Loan Scheme had been “welcome”, but said targeted interventions were required to save businesses.

The five-point plan includes:

  1. Recognising short-term accommodation providers as a stand-alone category to be included in current and future support schemes for the hospitality industry such as business rates holidays and grants, to avoid complications in claiming for relief
  2. Amending domestic legislation to allow the provision of refunds and price reductions as vouchers and credit notes instead of cash.
  3. Enabling more companies to participate in the Future Fund by lowering the investment threshold for eligibility.
  4. Ensuring that the matching structure of the Future Fund caters to EIS/SEIS-compliant private investment, as many companies in the short-term rental sector have private investors rather than venture capital investment.
  5. Minimising limits placed on international visitors by ensuring that travellers who have to self-isolate, during this period, have the option to book a home and that any limits are in place for as short a period as possible.

Merilee Karr, chair of the STAA and chief executive of UnderTheDoormat, said: “As an industry we support and appreciate the swift and meaningful actions already taken by the government, as well as the dialogue that it has maintained with our industry. But it’s imperative that more is done if we are not to see a complete collapse of many companies in a sector that provides so many jobs, has valuable supply chains and provides vital options for consumers in the UK’s tourist accommodation sector.

“Our 5-point plan addresses the main challenges facing companies operating in this sector such as cashflow, avoiding forced redundancies and creating better access to loan and grant funding. For those short-letting their home, and the companies that operate in the sector, the loss of both present and future income can be devastating and countless small entrepreneurs face going out of business, removing money from local economies.”

Karr said the STAA expects demand to be 25% below normal this summer because of reduced numbers of visitors to the UK, but expected a boom in domestic tourism as holidays are high on people’s post-lockdown to-do lists.

“It’s imperative the industry gets the support it needs now to be in good shape to cater for people’s holiday needs and therefore be able to make a good if not full recovery later this year.”