The UK government is working to remove any barriers to the growth of the disruptive sharing economy, according to business minister Matthew Hancock.
Speaking at the launch of new trade body Sharing Economy UK in Westminster, Hancock told delegates that the UK is at “the forefront” of the global sharing economy. He added that the government is behind the “breaking down of old business models where it helps consumers get a better deal”.
“Whether it’s reforming the law around short-term letting in London, or supporting the expansion of sharing economy business in any sector, we are there by your side,” he said.
The business minister urged all business owners within the sharing economy to “speak up passionately for what you believe in” in the face of “opponents to the agenda”.
“I need to hear from you if there are problems that mean your business can’t expand,” he continued.
‘Values and principles’
The Sharing Economy UK trade body has been formed following the 2014 report Unlocking the UK’s Sharing Economy, which was commission by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The establishment of a trade organisation was one of 30 recommendations to come out of the paper itself.
Speaking at today’s event, report author Debbie Wosskow, who is also founding chair of Sharing Economy UK, said that she hopes the body will help to put in place a “framework of values and principles” to look at best practice within the industry.
>See also: The biggest problem with a sharing economy
Establishing an industry-wide “kite mark” for the Sharing Economy UK members is a big part of making this happen, according to Wosskow.
She went on to describe the sharing economy in the UK as a “very broad church”.
“So to put in place something that is meaningful for consumers and that they can trust is going to need a lot of work,” she warned.
Wosskow expressed hope that, whatever the result of May’s General Election, the sharing economy will continue to receive strong support from Westminster.
“I would be disappointed if the sharing economy became a micro-party political issue,” she said. “It’s much bigger than that. I remain confident that we all need to come together as a single voice across the piece.”
Andrew Saul, senior partner, Osborne Clarke and deputy chair of Sharing Economy UK, commented that “regulation and tax continue to be a challenge for sharing economy businesses”.
“Osborne Clarke has long supported the sharing economy community across Europe and the US and is currently advising many businesses on how to match their innovative business models with existing regulation,” he said.
“We’re excited to be supporting SEUK, tackling legal and regulatory issues to work on practical solutions for this booming industry.”
Further reading: Entrepreneurs urge further support for high-growth business