A new trade body has been set up to represent and champion sharing economy businesses in the UK. 

Sharing Economy UK (SEUK), launched today by business minister Matthew Hancock, has 21 founding member companies, including Airbnb, ZipCar and Tech City UK. The SEUK Board is made up of: Debbie Wosskow (Love Home Swap), Andrew Saul (Osborne Clarke), Patrick Robinson (Airbnb), Matthew McStravick (Echo) and Alex Depledge (Hassle.com).

The latest generation of smartphone apps are giving hotel chains and taxi firms a bit of a headache ©iStock
The latest generation of smartphone apps are giving hotel chains and taxi firms a bit of a headache ©iStock

Sharing economy platforms encourage consumers and businesses to share and utilise their assets, such as cars and homes. But they're proving to be both popular and controversial, as they look to disrupt well established businesses with their innovative technology platforms. 

The launch of SEUK comes after a government review into the sharing economy that aimed to understand the economic potential and social issues that are generated when people share products and services over the internet. 

Indeed, one of the report's recommendations was that UK sharing economy businesses come together to form a trade body to act as a single voice and set a kitemark for industry best practice. 

SEUK has also pledged to hold an annual conference and publish research around the sharing economy. 

Debbie Wosskow, founder of Love Home Swap and author of the independent review, will chair the body for the first year, in a role that will change hands annually. 

“It was clear following the launch of the report that sharing economy businesses were overwhelmingly supportive of the idea of a trade body,” she said. “The UK has all the tools to become the global home to sharing economy businesses, but to date our industry has been missing that one body to champion the sector.”

Andrew Saul, senior partner at Osborne Clarke law firm and deputy chair of Sharing Economy UK, said: “While connected consumers have been quick to see the benefits of home sharing or car-pooling, matters of insurance, regulation and tax continue to be a challenge for sharing economy businesses.

“Osborne is currently advising many businesses on how to match their innovative business models with existing regulation. We’re excited to be supporting SEUK, tackling legal and regulatory issues to work on practical solutions for this booming industry.”

The full list of founding SEUK members includes: Airbnb, Appear Here, Bla Bla Car, Compare and Share, EasyCar, Echo, Hassle.com, Liftshare, Love Home Swap, Nimber, One Fine Stay, OuiShare, Task Rabbit, ZipCar. The members will be advised by: Coadec, Institute of Directors, Nesta, Osborne Clarke, PwC, Tech City and Tech UK.