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The UK is launching a comprehensive independent review of the sharing economy, Matthew Hancock, UK Minister of Business and Innovation announced today.
The government estimates that a quarter of UK adults currently share something — from power tools to their homes — online and that current global revenues could grow from £9 billion ($15 billion) today to £230 billion ($374 billion) per year by 2025.
The goal of the review to understand the main issues and regulatory burdens faced by sharing economy companies and explore its benefits in order to form recommendations for moving forward. It expected to be completed by early December.
There is, however, one glaring issue with UK’s review: It is being led by the CEO of a sharing economy company. And the ruling Conservative Party has already made it clear it wants the UK to appear more attractive to tech companies.
Debbie Wosskow, CEO of Love Home Swap and founder of the Collaborative Consumption Europe network, has been tasked with leading the review team that, according to the release, will work with “a wide range of stakeholders,” including consumers, established businesses moving towards a collaborative model, and businesses facing increased competition.
Another issue is the scope of the review. As The Guardian points out, the review is not interested in the sharing economy’s impact on labor and service workers whose livelihoods and safety standards are often compromised these new companies.
The UK government’s pro-sharing economy position could also be part of the Tories play to attract young entrepreneurs to build their business in the UK.
“There’s huge economic potential for the sharing economy and I want to make sure that the UK is front and centre of that, competing with San Francisco to be the home of these young tech start-ups,” Hancock said in a statement announcing the review.
Airbnb was, of course, quick to voice its support for the initiative.
“We’ve seen how Airbnb makes neighborhoods better places to live, work and visit and we’re excited about this new step forward,” Patrick Robinson, Airbnb’s head of public policy in Europe and Canada, wrote in a release.
“More and more governments are embracing home sharing and we are excited to work with policy makers on sensible rules that protect the public interest, help regular people share their homes and ensure the sharing economy continues to thrive.”
Robinson is only somewhat correct in writing about government’s slowly shifting attitudes towards the sharing economy.
Although Amsterdam and Portland have started to legitimize the sharing economy — albeit with restrictions that limit the frequency with which units are available — others including Paris, Barcelona, and New York continue to crack down on home rentals that violate local or state laws.