The UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) has followed up its successful nationwide NHS Homes initiative with the launch of a new scheme to offer NHS staff and key government workers discounted safe and clean accommodation near their places of work, to help protect them and their families as the UK’s COVID-19 infection rates rise.
The STAA, the short-term rentals industry representative body, is launching the TrustedStays scheme this week, after close consultation with Government representatives. Over the last six months, its NHS Homes scheme has been hugely successful in offering NHS workers free accommodation, which has led to a significant number of professional short term rental companies collaborating to launch the Trusted Stays scheme. The new scheme is offering discounted accommodation to any government worker, including those who need to relocate, to support them in the fight against the second wave of COVID-19.
The association has developed the scheme to make it more convenient for the UK Government and NHS to book appropriate accommodation for its staff. The main elements of the scheme are:
- It will provide the Government and NHS with one single website on which to book accommodation in accredited homes across the UK
- All bookings will receive discounted rates on the standard commercial rates
- All TrustedStays member companies follow the single set of industry cleaning and safety protocols introduced in June. The protocols are supported by the Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Tourism Alliance and the Welsh Association of Self-Catering Operators and are based on guidance provided by organisations such as the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), WHO (World Health Organisation), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), Centres for Disease Control (CDC), NIH (National Institutes of Health), NHS (National Health Service).
- It is only open to STAA members who have accreditation from Quality in Tourism’s Safe, Clean and Legal scheme. Quality in Tourism carries out assessments of hotels, guest houses, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation across the UK. It has a field force of experienced assessors and a highly dedicated in-house team. Each member of the assessment team visit hundreds of businesses every year and are able to provide practical help and support to help a business to grow, share ideas on how to increase bookings and profitability plus offer insights into changing customer perceptions and market trends. Quality in Tourism is the accreditation partner of the STAA.
- Property management companies upload the information about their available properties onto the website to enable Government officials to search for accommodation in their area or near to specific hospitals
- Enquiries from customers will go directly to the company responsible for the home’s rental and payment can be arranged by invoice or debit/credit card
Around 1,000 properties in London, Manchester and Edinburgh are available now for bookings through 11 different short term rental partners in the UK. The scheme will be rolled out to towns and cities across the UK in November.
The NHS Homes scheme, which launched in March, involved more than 30 property companies donating accommodation with a value of more than £20m, providing over 10,000 nights’ free accommodation. The scheme has experienced a spike in demand in recent weeks as COVID-19 infection rates rose. TrustedStays will now effectively replace it and be available to a wider audience of key workers on a long-term basis.
TrustedStays has partnered with some of the major players in the UK short term accommodation industry including Sykes Cottages, who represent thousands of properties around the UK, Guest Ready who cover Edinburgh, Manchester and London and UnderTheDoormat who provide luxury homestays throughout London. The other partners are Altido, CityRelay, Air Peace of Mind, A Place Like Home, Way of Life, Seven Living, Urban Stays and Mason & Fifth.
Merilee Karr, Chair of the STAA, said,
“The huge success we saw with the NHS Homes scheme illustrated to us that the authorities needed our support in housing their staff as they continue to work through this pandemic and beyond.
“We took many learnings from setting up that scheme and because we already have the infrastructure, cleaning protocols and accreditation in place, the Government and NHS workers trust us to provide the appropriate accommodation. We recognised the need went beyond NHS workers and we were challenged to produce a more sustainable version.
“We put a huge amount of effort in over the summer months to deliver this and I’m delighted with what has been achieved. This offer isn’t just confined to NHS workers. We can also support the Government to accommodate people who need to shelter from COVID-19 for health reasons and for other key workers such as MPs, who have to be at their place of work, need flexible accommodation and prefer to stay in a professionally managed home setting.
“By staying in safe and clean accommodation, key workers won’t have the worry of a daily commute on public transport and will be able to protect vulnerable family members by staying in a separate, self-contained property.”
Graham Donoghue, CEO of Sykes Cottages:
“Sykes Cottages are proud to participate in TrustedStays and with our strong network of properties across the UK, we are in a position to provide quality accommodation in homes for NHS and other key workers as their needs arise. As a company that works to contribute to the communities where we operate, this is a great way for us and our owners to play an active role in providing homes to the people who are working so hard to support us all.”
Richard Bridger, COO of UnderTheDoormat:
“NHS Homes demonstrated that there is a real lack of options when it comes to accommodation for professionals and key workers in this current environment. By opening up the option of safe, clean and comfortable homes to Government workers we can provide a long-term sustainable solution for them in the current environment as well as in a post-COVID world.”
The UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) was founded in March 2017 to support the development of short-term accommodation in the UK, ensure greater co-operation in tackling common industry challenges and seize shared opportunities. It seeks to work with all stakeholders towards a stable and supportive regulatory environment that promotes the UK as a global leader in the provision of short-term accommodation.