UK urged to back 'sharing economy'
The UK should do more to support "sharing economy" platforms like Airbnb, TaskRabbit and Zipcar, according to a government-commissioned review.
The Unlocking The Sharing Economy review was commissioned in September by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and led by Debbie Wosskow, the chief executive of the start-up Love Home Swap.
It makes more than 30 recommendations to help people make the most of their homes, cars and other assets to "build a nation of everyday entrepreneurs".
The review calls for a start-up incubator and innovation lab for British companies in this field, suggests that Jobcentre staff promote sharing economy platforms to jobseekers and suggests more car-pooling lanes in high congestion areas.
It calls for "fair terms of entry to the accommodation market" and suggests that "someone renting out a spare room is not subject to the same level of regulation as a business renting out 100 rooms all year round".
It also suggests that the Government should pilot a "sharing city" in the UK "where transport, shared office space, accommodation and skills networks are joined together and residents are encouraged to share as part of their daily lives".
According to the report, it is estimated that 25% of UK adults are already sharing online and that global revenues in the sharing economy could rise from £9 billion today to £230 billion in 2025.
Business, Enterprise and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said: "We will back the innovators, challengers and agitators nationwide who are tearing up traditional business models and creating new jobs across the country.
"The Government will respond to the review in due course, but for now I would like to thank Debbie Wosskow for all her hard work and for flying the flag for these exciting, new online businesses, which pump money into households and make life easier for people."
Ms Wosskow said: "The sharing economy is one of tremendous growth, both in the UK and around the world, and today's report seeks to examine both the social and economic potential of these new businesses.
"From car-pooling to shared office space, the sharing economy sector is undoubtedly coming of age and we hope that today's recommendations will allow the UK Government to both fully embrace and correctly regulate this space, as there is a great opportunity here for the UK to be at the forefront of the global sharing economy."
A separate report the Institute of Directors released yesterday said individuals should be able to earn £10,000 a year tax-free in the sharing economy by renting out their spare rooms, cars or other assets.
It urged the Government to support the trend by extending the existing Rent A Room scheme, which currently permits a tax-free income of up to £4,250 from overnight stays, to cover other shareable assets.
But in a report, entitled Share The Wealth, the IoD warned that many of its members (45%) said they would not feel comfortable interacting in the sharing economy with people they do not know, against 35% who said they would. Some 85% of IoD members said some form of insurance would be important.