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The Budget 2015: Sharing economy boosted with government usage and northern hubs

4 min read

18 March 2015

Former deputy editor

George Osborne mentioned during the Budget 2015 that there's a need to “support the latest insurgent industries” to “put Britain at the forefront of the online sharing economy,” which will be achieved with the launch of hubs in Manchester and Leeds, as well as adoption from the government.

It follows the 6 March launch of the Sharing Economy UK (SEUK) trade body, which is designed to bring order, promotion and power to the burgeoning sector, created by a number of companies in the space including LoveHomeSwap and Airbnb.

Osborne’s comments on the sharing economy were brief, though he recognised its disruptive nature and said: “Since we aim to be the most prosperous major economy in the coming generation, then we must support the latest insurgent industries too. So we take steps to put Britain at the forefront of the online sharing economy.”

Further revelations on the plans were made in the full report, detailing the launch of pilot sharing economy hubs in the Leeds City region and Greater Manchester in 2015-2016. With London already showcasing rapid growth, the north “presents an opportunity to drive local growth and deliver local public services more innovatively and efficiently.” Said services will include shared transport, public spaces, health and social care.

In line with that, Real Business spoke to Alex Depledge, founder of online domestic cleaning marketplace Hassle.com and SEUK board member, and she revealed how the model can be adapted to support childcare and the elderly. 

Additionally, the report explained a strategy to knock down barriers and unlock the potential, enabling government staff to use the sharing economy solutions for accommodation and transport when travelling on official business. 

Furthermore, JobCentre Plus staff will be able to direct job seekers to sharing economy posts, with the government promising to update staff on the sector by autumn, working alongside the SEUK to boast skills, experience and income.

Debbie Wosskow, founder and CEO of LoveHomeSwap, and chair of the SEUK, said: I’m delighted that the government has taken the sharing economy report I issued last November so seriously – and that they have really listened, and taken real action on the back of the recommendations I made, particularly around changes to make it easier to share rooms and parking spaces.

“I am also impressed by the way in which government has embraced the sharing economy internally as well, updating the government procurement frameworks to include sharing economy platforms and also allowing government employees to use sharing economy solutions for accommodation and traveling. 

“I also welcome today’s announcement that  in 2015-2016 Leeds and Greater Manchester will be undertaking a ‘Sharing City’ pilot scheme, in which transport, shared office space, accommodation and skills are joined together and residents are encouraged to share.”

John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, added: “We think UK sharing economy revenues have the potential to grow to around £9 billion by 2025. We therefore welcome the measures in the Budget to support this growth by removing regulatory barriers and encouraging central and local government to participate in the sharing economy. 

“The pilot schemes in Greater Manchester and Leeds should be a good test of how far greater sharing of assets and expertise through digital platforms can enhance the delivery of public services in areas like transport, health and social care.”