David Weston of the Bed & Breakfast Association 'fights the corner' for this £2 billion 'cottage industry'

Sunday, 2 May 2010

B&Bs Bore an "Unnecessary" Burden of £428 Million

One of the Association's biggest and longest campaigning issues has of course been against the disproportionate cost burden placed on B&Bs by the way the 2006 fire regulations were enforced. We lobbied ministers, set up the Fire Safety SENSE Campaign (www.firesafetysense.com), which gained the support of organisations representing 460,000 small businesses - and last year, started to see some success.

The UK Government's new Guidance, published in the closing weeks of 2008 after input from the Association and other supporters of the Campaign, started to result in 2009 in fire authorities in England and Wales withdrawing Enforcement Notices and revising their procedures.

In Scotland, the previous guidance was scrapped at around the same time, and last November new guidance went out to consultation. The truly amazing thing, though, was the figures the Scottish Government themselves quoted: their "independent analysis" compared the average cost of compliance under the new guidance at £1,090 per B&B, compared with £15,376 under the previous guidance - a reduction of over £14,000 per B&B in the estimated cost of compliance.

That is a total reduction in the cost burden on small accommodation businesses in Scotland of £100 million, on the Scottish Government's own figures.

If the Scottish Government's figures - the only ones yet released by a national Government - were applied across the UK, the unnecessary additional burden the mistaken and disproportionate enforcement of the regulations placed on B&Bs before the guidances were revised (following our Campaign) would have been £428 million.

A truly jaw-dropping figure, which should serve as a lesson to lawmakers and enforcers in future.