Ed Vaizey, the UK’s digital economy minister, today refused to reveal what he liked and disliked in the UK sharing economy report that was submitted to government at the end of last year.
Speaking alongside Uber and Airbnb at the FT Sharing Economy European Summit, held at the Level39 startup accelerator in Canary Wharf, Vaizey said government will respond to the 30 recommendations "shortly" and "certainly before parliament rises for general election".
He said the recommendations in the report were "well put" and "resonable" but he gave the impression that government will not be able to act on all of them.
"I expect when the government does publish its response, you’ll see quite a few of them taken forward,” said Vaizey, after being accused of question-dodging by FT journalist Sally Davies. "It’s due to be published imminently. I don’t want to preempt it except say it’s a fantastic report."
Debbie Wosskow, author of the report and CEO of UK-based sharing economy company Love Home Swap, was asked by government to conduct a review into the UK sharing economy in a bid to help ministers understand the economic potential and social issues that are generated when people share products and services over the internet.
Wosskow’s 43-page report, Unlocking the sharing economy: An independent review, makes 28 recommendations for government and two for the private sector.
Digital skills and tax
She told Techworld that government may choose to reject some of those proposals, adding that it’s most likely to dismiss those around digital skills as they’re harder to enforce than some of the other recommendations.
“I think they may find some of the skills sharing recommendations complicated because if you go back through the report it touches on some really big issues like living wage,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what the level of engagement will be around that. Some of the other recommendations are a bit easier for them to push through.”
The report states: “Skill sharing platforms should agree to ensure workers are paid at least the living wage. This should form part of the kitemark for sharing economy platforms.”
The living wage is £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 an hour in the rest of the UK.
Wosskow added that it will be interesting to see how the government responds to her sharing economy tax proposals.
The report states: “HMRC and HM Treasury should create a guide to tax in the sharing economy, and an online tax calculator to help users of sharing economy services to easily work out how much tax they are liable to pay."
Wosskow said she expects to receive government-feedback on her report within the next few weeks.
PWC valued the UK sharing economy market at £500 million and the global market at £9 billion. But the professional services expects the new sector to take off over the next decade, climbing to £230 billion by 2025.
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