The entrepreneur behind a sharing economy startup called Liftshare has hit out against the chancellor’s decision to back driverless vehicles in the budget last week, arguing that George Osborne failed to support some of the sharing economy’s most relevant companies in the process. 

“They [in government] appear to still be missing the even larger potential from supporting giving and sharing services,” said Ali Clabburn, the CEO and founder of Liftshare, a platform that helps people find others driving in their direction so they can cut their travel costs.

One of the UK's envisaged driverless car shuttles ©Innovate UK
One of the UK's envisaged driverless car shuttles ©Innovate UK

Osborne pledged to invest £100 million in driverless vehicles during his budget 2015 speech but Clabburn believes the money would have been better-spent elsewhere.

“If the chancellor had invested £100 million in reducing passengerless cars rather than in driverless cars he could have taken two million cars off the UK's roads,” said Clabburn.

“The budget was fantastic for the freelance economy and the rental economy but it did very little for the real sharing economy – where people share with each other, not for profit, but to reduce costs and waste and have more fun. He refused to support high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and lift sharing and the plans for a ‘shared city’ made no mention of encouraging sharing lifts.”

Unlike Uber, Liftshare is one of the founding members of the Sharing Economy UK trade body, which was launched this month to represent and champion sharing economy businesses in the UK. 

Uber was left out of the cohort because the UK government does not consider the San Francisco taxi-hailing giant to be a true sharing economy company due to the fact it operates as a private hire vehicle dispatcher in the UK.