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Five new firms join SEUK as Britain’s sharing economy receives official definition

The Sharing Economy UK's (SEUK) mission to help awareness and growth of the “insurgent” sector spread across Britain has received a renewed push as five new members, including Onfido and TrustedHousesitters, have joined the trade body.
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Officially established on 6 March to remove barriers for entrepreneurs operating in the the highly popular sharing economy market, trade body SEUK is chaired by Love Home Swap founder Debbie Wosskow.

Her post was cemented after being commissioned by the government to write a 30-step sharing economy report that detailed how the market can achieve success. 

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Real Business was in attendance at the Portcullis House launch, which saw MP Matthew Hancock back the campaign alongside 19 SEUK members, such as Airbnb, Hassle.com, PwC, Bla Bla Car and Tech City UK.

Talking to us about the ambition for the trade body, board member and Hassle.com CEO Alexandra Depledge, said at the time: “I want to raise awareness around the sharing economy and build trust into it, which can only be done through education and putting across any viewpoints.

“The other thing is to raise the profile of the businesses that exist in the sharing economy now and those that live outside of it currently and bring them in.”

With that in mind, five new SEUK members have been brought into the fold:

  • Home Exchange, which allows its 65,000 members to trade homes with each other around the world.
  • Vrumi is designed to support micro business owners and professionals who are looking for a place to work during the day.
  • TrustedHousesitters connects home and pet owners with trusted sitters globally who will take care of the animals for free.
  • UnderTheDoormat provides homeowners with income when they travel by opening homes to guests for local experiences.
  • Onfido, which secured a $4.5m funding round in February, supports businesses with comprehensive background checking on individuals to enhance security.

While we’ve already touched upon Depledge’s goal for the sharing economy, the past few months have been spent working on determining the essence of the space in order to move forward. As such, the SEUK has agreed on the official definition of the sector.

The trade body, said: “The sharing economy involves using internet technologies to connect distributed groups of people and organisations to make better use of goods, skills, services, capital and spaces, sharing ‘access’ and so reducing the need for ‘ownership’.”

Read more on the sharing economy:

Andrew Saul, deputy chair of SEUK and senior partner at law firm Osborne Clarke, said: “It was important that we worked together on a definition early on. A clear, agreed and consistent definition is crucial if the sharing economy is to become the defining force in technology and enterprise that we know it can be. 

“SEUK’s members come from a wide array of vertical industries – transport, accommodation, leisure – in which they are typically seen as a disruptive force. By agreeing on a definition, these very different businesses can unite on their common challenges – such as regulation and insurance – and can move forward to create industry best practice.”

During the spring budget, George Osborne pledged support for the sharing economy, which he filed under “insurgent industries”, and said dedicated hubs would be built in Leeds and Manchester. 

He also noted the government will begin using the channels for transport and accommodation, while JobCentre staff would be trained to make jobseekers aware of opportunities in the market.

Debbie Wosskow, SEUK chair, added: “Since launching three months ago, SEUK has achieved so much for the UK’s sharing economy. It was fantastic to see the government recognise and address some of the challenges facing sharing economy businesses in the Spring Budget, but I am particularly proud of the way in which, as an organisation, we are already working together more effectively to make positive changes for our members.

“Today we welcome Home Exchange, Vrumi, TrustedHousesitters, UndertheDoormat and Onfido to the body, and are very much looking forward to working with these enterprising businesses as we focus on our next tasks: working with the new government on sharing economy issues, and establishing a kitemark of industry best practice.”

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About Author

Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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