A new report by trade body Sharing Economy UK can help the government’s twin challenge of reducing unemployment and supporting sustainable businesses. The report provides real-world examples on how digital businesses across the sharing economy, both large and small, have been innovating to survive. During lockdown, skills sharing platform TaskRabbit experienced a surge in demand for home renovations, while HURR and ByRotation saw sharp rises in fashion rentals as consumers sought more sustainable choices.
Before the pandemic struck, the industry was set to be worth £140 billion by 2025. Yet Covid, resulting restrictions have had a profound impact across the sector and those who rely on it. Nonetheless, the new report finds demand in the sharing economy, whether in fashion, car or skills, has remained resilient.
The Government support schemes and loans have been a lifeline to smaller and start up businesses, but the sharing economy needs more targeted help to weather the pandemic. To help this entrepreneurial sector thrive, meet the demands for a sustainable future and spur productivity, the new Sharing Economy UK report recommends:
Raising the tax-free amount for individuals participating in the sharing economy from £1,000 to £5,000 per year. This will encourage more participation in the sharing economy, make it easier for individuals to meet their income tax obligations while supporting the government’s objective to simplify the tax system.
Support for sharing economy businesses that reduce waste – from a reduction in VAT for rental services and those selling second-hand products to dedicated funding for businesses that prove they reduce waste – this should be encouraged, incentivised and rewarded.
Further investment in digital connectivity across the UK must be a priority along with digital skills training and access to affordable providers. Improving digital connectivity and skills will help eliminate the barriers to getting online.
To coincide with the publication of this report, we spoke to Juliet Eccleston, Chair of Sharing Economy UK to find out more about this exciting and increasingly important sector. It’s exciting because the possibilities are endless – from unlocking the value of assets (and earning income from them), to trading of skills, space and materials, to sustainability and connecting with communities. You can listen to the full podcast here.
You can read the full report here.