The UK government has promised to tweak regulation that obstructs disruptive business models - like the sharing economy - with an all-new 'action group'.

The sharing economy is already worth over £500 million in the UK and could be worth up to £9 billion a year by 2025, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper's estimates.

Airbnb is part of the sharing economy trade body in the UK Credit: Airbnb
Airbnb is part of the sharing economy trade body in the UK Credit: Airbnb

An ‘Emerging Industry Action Group’, which aims to highlight and overcome barriers to the sharing economy, was announced by the government this morning, confirming its commitment to remove archaic restrictions that could hinder UK disruptors. 

The group combines civil servants from government departments and sharing economy trade body SEUK, founded by Task Rabbit, Hassle, ZipCar, Airbnb and holiday home swapping site Love Home Swap in March this year.

The trade body shunned Uber as it is not technically operating a sharing economy business model. It operates similarly to a mini-cab company, but with an app and therefore it is not recognised as a sharing economy company in the UK. 

SEUK will work with government to identify where regulation is holding the sharing economy back, and hold government to its promises announced by George Osborne in the Spring Budget.

These included a £700,000 investment for Leeds and Manchester to run Sharing Cities pilots like office-sharing, car clubs and community hubs to drive local growth.

The government also said it would extend the benefits of sharing economies to civil servants themselves, giving them the option to book accommodation and travel through these platforms that are sometimes cheaper and more convenient than hotels or taxis.

The new action group was announced in an annual productivity report released this morning.

It stated: “The spread of high speed communications infrastructure is driving forward the development of new business models and disruptive technologies. These businesses are shaking up markets, creating competition and generating more choice. The government wants to ensure that the UK is supporting these businesses, breaking down barriers and boosting UK productivity.” 

Chair of Sharing Economy UK and CEO of Love Home Swap, Debbie Wosskow, said: “I’m delighted the government continues to recognise the potential of the sharing economy and is taking real action to make the UK an attractive destination for sharing companies to innovate and grow. There is still work to do and I hope the emerging industry group can bring lasting benefits to the fast-growing sector and the rest of the UK.”