Debbie Wosskow is CEO and Founder of Love Home Swap, a club she set up in 2011 where homeowners can swap, rent or use points to stay in over 60,000 properties in 160 countries worldwide. Debbie has co-founded several other ventures including ‘Collaborative Consumption Europe’, Maidthorn Partners and Mantra Public Relations. At the end of September 2014, Debbie was invited to lead an independent review of the Sharing Economy for the UK Government.
“…Just from the roundtables that we’ve done in the last week we’ve spoken to people who are finding ways to create more office spaces, people who are looking at homes, people who are setting up travel, transport, ride sharing and skill sharing businesses. It’s vast…”
The Sharing Economy is a new set of business models driven by technologies that are making it easier for people to share their property, time and skills. Over the next few months I will be exploring the social and economic potential of the Sharing Economy in the UK, and making recommendations on how this potential can be reached. I will also be looking at how to create a level playing field with traditional operators in businesses which are impacted by the Sharing Economy.
Background to the UK Government review of the Sharing Economy
The Government’s interest in this sector was particularly clear this January when, as part of their Challenger Business Programme, they invited executives from the Sharing Economy into Downing Street.
The objective of that roundtable was to listen to the ways in which Sharing Economy businesses are scaling within the UK, to identify any regulatory issues affecting growth and to understand the social and economic impact.
Recent Sharing Economy initiatives
Off the back of that roundtable, a number of initiatives were put in place straight away by the Government.
Secondly, a lot of Sharing Economy businesses have been having real challenges putting in place insurance products to protect consumers. As a result, a dialogue between the Sharing Economy and the insurance sector was facilitated by Downing Street. The good news is that an insurance guide has now been produced, which is being published by the insurance industry in the next few weeks.
Out of these initiatives, Downing Street decided that it would be sensible to commission an independent report that looked at the Sharing Economy more broadly. This would look at its wider impact and how the UK could become the home of the Sharing Economy globally. I was invited at the end of September to write this report.
Listening to all sides of the conversation
For my report, it’s very important to listen to the concerns of traditional operators impacted by the Sharing Economy, such as hotels and taxis, as well as consumers and workers in this sector.
I’m being supported by BIS – the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – and the report is going to be presented to Matt Hancock, who’s the relevant Minister.
The report breaks the Sharing Economy down into four key areas:
– Trends of the Future, which covers the likes of fashion, food and DIY
To ensure I’m speaking to all sides of the conversation, I’m hosting seven roundtables with key industry players over the next few weeks. These sessions will provide people with the opportunity to discuss their main issues and offer thoughts on what the Government, businesses and society can do to encourage growth within this new economy in the UK.
I’ll be collecting evidence for this report in three ways: roundtable discussions, survey responses and written evidence. By using all of these channels, I want to ensure that everyone that wishes to express their views on the Sharing Economy can do so.
Capturing everybody’s issues
Just from the roundtables that we’ve done in the last week we’ve spoken to people who are finding ways to create more office spaces, people who are looking at homes, people who are setting up travel, transport, ride sharing and skill sharing businesses.
It’s vast. And so it’s important to have a detailed submission to ensure we capture everybody’s issues, whatever their standpoint. We can’t promise that we’ll cover absolutely everything, but we will do our very best to ensure that we’ve at least listened to and considered everybody who participates.
What US-based tech businesses can teach UK companies
The US is where the scale is currently in terms of the biggest Sharing Economy businesses, but Europe is quickly catching up. Take BlaBlaCar as an example – a French business, which is now the largest ridesharing site in the world. Challenging but exciting times lie ahead in the UK for everyone who’s involved in this sector.
You’ll be able to read the results of the review later this year. In the meantime, please do get involved. I’d love to hear from you:
You can subscribe to my regular Sharing Economy report updates here.
More from Debbie Wosskow: https://twitter.com/DebbieWossk