Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy: November 2017

Minutes from the November 2017 meeting of the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance

  • Helen Goulden, The Young Foundation (Chair)
  • Ewan MacDonald-Russell, Regulatory Review Group (RRG)
  • Claire Mack, Scottish Renewables
  • Jonathan Ollivent, Uber
  • Patrick Robinson, Airbnb
  • Douglas Shand, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC)
  • Grahame Smith, Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC)
  • Wendy McCutcheon, Scottish Government
  • Martin Namor, Scottish Government
  • Corey Reilly, Scottish Government
  • Louise Sutherland, Scottish Government
  • Henning Ehrenstein, European Commission (Via Video Conference)


  • Jonathan Coburn, Social Value Lab
  • Lorraine King, Scottish Government
  • Polly Purvis, ScotlandIS
  • Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland
  • John Schmidt, Shepherd & Wedderburn

Items and actions

1. Welcome

The Chair welcomed everyone to the final panel session, thanking them for their attendance and commitment to the meetings and the process. The Chair explained the process for circulating the draft report for comment, when the report would go to Scottish Ministers and the publication of the report. The report is described as a positive opportunity for Scotland and where it can bring regulators and platforms together to embrace the opportunities and look at the issues that have been discussed over the various topics.

2. Panel discussion on the report and questions to be answered

The panel discussed the important questions that need to be answered and the thoughts for the future after the report has been published.

Key points included:

  • Determining the impact of the collaborative economy and how this will contribute to inclusive growth of the Scottish economy;
  • Acknowledgement that there is a lot of work to be done to assess the impact and readiness of people for change in terms of the collaborative economy;
  • Activity of the panel continues or a method to monitor progress;
  • A focus on Scotland’s strengths like tourism and food and drink;
  • Well qualified graduates are key for Scotland to be able to shape the collaborative economy and develop platforms;
  • The impact of the collaborative economy on workforce and communities is considered; and
  • Need to ensure consumers are aware of different level of protection in relation to consumer to consumer transactions.

3. Key Recommendations

The panel discussed the key recommendations in the report, key points were:

  • Information for participants in the collaborative economy, including those working in the sector, should be provided by government and readily accessible including signposting on platforms;
  • Strong employment regulations should underpin the collaborative economy
  • Collaborative approaches in the public sector can make asset use more effective and efficient eg office space, transport; and
  • Providers and consumers need to be adequately skilled to embrace the collaborative economy.

4. Overview on EU approach from Henning Ehrenstein, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission, DG Growth, Service Policy for Consumers

Henning Ehrenstein from the European Commission gave a presentation on the EU approach to the collaborative economy.

Key points included:

  • The collaborative economy offers new opportunities, allowing both citizens and entrepreneurs the chance to offer services and lowering barriers to entry to labour market, and represents benefits for consumers;

Negative aspects can be safety issues and standards at work.

  • The main messages are that there is the chance to modernise national legislations, all stakeholders must comply with rules that are proportionate, necessary and justified and encourage professionals and peers to provide services.
  • The main issues that are covered are market access, liability, consumer protection, employment and taxation.

There was discussion afterwards with the panel about what approaches other countries are taking in terms of the collaborative economy in terms of peer to peer accommodation. For example, Belgium and Denmark incentivise platforms to be accredited with tax authorities and people to register with them whilst Portugal has a system where a host has to register and provide basic information to the local authority and has a phone line for any complaints. In France, more leeway is provided where the accommodation is the person’s primary residence and in London and Amsterdam, a limit on the number of days of letting has been put in place.

5. Accommodation and Tourism

The panel discussed some of the evidence and points surrounding accommodation and tourism in order to finalise for the draft report.

Key points included:

  • The panel discussed the various different approaches that are being taken across Europe such as no differentiation between commercial/peer to peer lets but everyone has to be registered and where there is legislation to allow platforms to provide information on income tax;
  • Issues are not just down to the growth in peer to peer accommodation with price point potentially lowered, but cheap flights and other factors are having an impact;
  • There are long-term issues which pre-date the collaborative economy such as dense urban centres where this a high demand for a limited amount of accommodation;
  • A potential approach for areas where there is high demand is to limit availability to peak times and consideration of what outcomes are desirable in terms of visitors/tourism and the potential impact on communities; and
  • The panel discussed the potential to flatten demand and increase the interest in other cities to spread visitors across Scotland, such as improving transport links to some areas.

6. Working in the Collaborative economy

The panel discussed some of the evidence and points surrounding working in the collaborative economy in order to finalise for the draft report.

Key points included:

  • Commercial interest should not override interests of the individual;
  • Fair work convention – proposal that the convention could bring together willing parties and develop a framework for fair work in the collaborative economy;
  • Examples where platforms will use aggregation to benefit ‘workers’ e.g. insurance for workers;
  • Sustainable business model should not be predicated on self-employment status of ‘workers’;
  • Clarify reference in paper to living wage;
  • Discussion around businesses producing a fair work strategy along lines of tax strategy on either a voluntary or compulsory basis; and
  • There is an opportunity to possibly ‘shine a light’ on good practice.

7. Social Value

The panel agreed on the points already made surrounding social value in the collaborative economy for the draft report and agreed that this is vitally important in the context of it.

8. Press, process and communications, next steps

The Chair agreed to send out an updated draft of the report to the panel for comment in early December to enable finalising of the draft before going to Scottish Ministers. The Chair thanked all of the panel for their work and contributions over the process.

Annex A

Action number Owner Agreed action Status
1 Panel Panel to request data from STAA & Airbnb which can be built on available data sources e.g. Indigo House report Completed
2 Secretariat List of co-ops from James Wright at Cooperatives UK
3 Secretariat Tech City UK to circulate current and future workplan information
4 Chair To circulate Broad principles of good practice that TrustSeal award to businesses Completed



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