Press Notice: Law must change to accommodate the Airbnb economy, finds new review

26th November 2014, London: A review launched to look at how the UK can become a global centre for the sharing economy – that’s online platforms such as Airbnb, TaskRabbit and Zipcar – has been published today.

The independent review, commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, makes over 30 recommendations that seek to help people make the most of their homes, cars and other assets, and build a nation of everyday entrepreneurs.

Recommendations range from carpooling to knocking down barriers in the insurance sector, a JobCentre culture revolution and a new trade body.

Recommendations include:

  • Creating more carpooling lanes in high congestion areas, for example, between the cities of Manchester and Leeds. There is strong evidence emerging that ridesharing and carpooling can reduce congestion and pollution while delivering a better service to consumers.
  • A start-up incubator and innovation lab for UK sharing economy platforms supported by Nesta and Innovate UK.
  • Recognition that using online platforms to make money boosts skills and experience. As such, Jobcentre staff should promote these platforms and encourage jobseekers to use them.
  • Ensuring fair terms of entry to the accommodation market, so that someone renting out a spare room for a few nights is not subject to the same level of regulation as a business renting out 100 rooms all year-round.
  • Establishing a voluntary sharing economy trade body and a ‘kite mark’ for responsible sharing platforms.

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. The review, led by Debbie Wosskow, was a thorough and detailed exploration of these new firms. Over 1,000 people submitted evidence to the review and Debbie met with over 100 people, including representatives from the TUC, the British Hospitality Association and the B&B Association. A further aim of the report was to engage with big businesses looking to embrace the sharing economy.

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.”

Debbie Wosskow, founder of the Collaborative Consumption Europe group and CEO of Love Home Swap, who headed up the report, commented: “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.

“Many thanks to the business leaders who met with me during this process, and also to the 1,000 people who responded to the review’s Call for Evidence.”

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, also commented on the report: “Consumers have spoken and over the past year we have seen a significant change in attitudes towards sharing economy businesses – from car sharing to holiday home leasing, these services are undoubtedly growing in popularity. At Virgin we’ve been studying the trends around the sharing economy trend for some time now and we welcome moves from policy-makers to better understand the space. Regulation will play an important role in the coming year and it’s great to see UK Government asking the question of what types of regulation can best protect consumers, while also encouraging and supporting the entrepreneurs seeking to challenge the status quo. The UK has an opportunity to be a leading example in the international sharing economy market and today’s recommendations are a very sensible step towards this.”



About Debbie Wosskow

Debbie Wosskow is an entrepreneur, investor and sharing economy expert. CEO of leading peer-to-peer travel club, Love Home Swap, Debbie is also the founder of the influential Collaborative Consumption Europe network. A former management consultant, she launched her first business, marketing and communications consultancy Mantra, at the age of just 25. Building Mantra over a decade, Debbie sold to the Loewy Group.

Debbie is a regular commentator on travel, collaborative consumption and entrepreneurship on TV and in print and sits on a number of advisory boards, as well as being a Trustee of the Hampstead Theatre.

She graduated with an MA in Philosophy and Theology from New College, Oxford University and lives in London with her two children.

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Emma Parrott, FieldHouse Associates

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BIBA guide to insurance and the sharing economy

Alongside the publication of the independent report on the sharing economy yesterday, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) has published a guide to insurance for sharing economy businesses. This is a great development – difficulties in getting appropriate insurance products was one of the key barriers raised during the review, and being insured is often very important to users of sharing economy services.

BIBA have also identified ten insurance brokers that are able to help sharing economy businesses find insurance products.

Debbie Wosskow has welcomed the guide:

“I’m delighted to see the launch of this new insurance guide and recommended broker list – global firsts for the sharing economy. Insurance has been a key focus of my government review, as many peer-to-peer businesses have had real challenges putting in place products to protect consumers. This is a big step forward to help with that process, as the sharing economy becomes more and more part of the mainstream.”

Matthew Hancock MP, the Business Minister, has also expressed support:

“There is huge economic potential for the sharing economy and I want to make sure that the UK is a world leader. An estimated 25 per cent of UK adults are already sharing online and getting a slice of £9 billion in global revenues – we are backing these everyday entrepreneurs and it’s great to see the insurance industry responding quickly and developing new products to support them too.”

More details: