1.1 This report presents an overview of findings from an analysis of responses to the call for evidence issued by the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy in April 2017.
The call for evidence
1.2 The Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy was established to provide advice, expertise and experience for policy development on the collaborative economy, and make recommendations to Scottish Ministers on how Scotland can position itself to take advantage of the opportunities of the collaborative economy and overcome any regulatory, economic and social challenges.
1.3 The collaborative economy connects individuals or communities via online platforms enabling the sharing or provision of goods and services, assets and resources without the need for ownership. The effect of the collaborative economy on how goods and services are provided and purchased has been significant, and has accelerated in recent years; the European Commission estimates that revenues from the collaborative economy nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015 (reaching nearly €4bn in 2015), with the UK seeing the most rapid growth.  This growth has seen collaborative platforms extend across a diverse range of sectors, including a number of specific growth sectors which are a particular focus for the Panel; peer-to-peer accommodation, transport and logistics, and collaborative financing. Recent developments of collaborative platforms being used to provide social and public benefits by supporting delivery of public services is also a key focus for the Panel.
1.4 While the growth in the collaborative economy has provided new opportunities for citizens, entrepreneurs and businesses, several potentially significant economic, regulatory and social challenges have also emerged. These are reflected in the Panel's key considerations, which are how to:
- ensure that regulation is fit for purpose and that an appropriate balance is struck to allow competition to flourish;
- protect and empower consumers and identify clear routes to redress;
- develop digital leadership skills to enable Scotland's business base to digitally transform and compete in the evolving market place;
- prepare Scotland's current and future workforce for the digital workplace by ensuring they can access courses to gain or update skills; and
- ensure that the wider economic, social and community impacts, including taxation, social inclusion and employment conditions are taken into account and embedded into the final recommendations.
1.5 Responses to the call for evidence will contribute to the Panel's exploration of these areas. The call included seven questions focused on: opportunities, challenges and barriers for the collaborative economy in Scotland; legislative protections for those participating in the collaborative economy; the balance between regulation and allowing competition and innovation; and the role of government in relation to the collaborative economy.
Overview of written submissions
1.6 A total of 52 written submissions were received. Of these, 41 were submitted by group respondents (79 per cent of all respondents) and 11 by individuals. A profile of respondents by type is provided below.
Table 1: Overview of respondents
|Business representative bodies, including…||11||21%|
|Public sector, including…||14||27%|
|Other group respondents, including…||5||10%|
|Group respondents (total)||41||79%|
1.7 Respondents were grouped into five broad respondent types based on their role - four broad types for group respondents, and one for individuals. A full list of group respondents is provided in Annex 1, and the main points to note about the composition of the groups are:
- Businesses: 11 respondents across four broad business sectors - two accommodation businesses, six transport and logistics, two collaborative finance, and one online marketplace. This included a mix of businesses operating within the collaborative economy, and 'traditional' operators.
- Business representative bodies: 11 respondents including representative bodies for a number of specific sectors - including five representing 'traditional' providers or accommodation, and three with a specific focus on the interests of businesses and employers.
- Public sector organisations: 14 respondents including seven local authorities, three public sector transport bodies, and four other national public sector organisations.
- Other group respondents: five respondents including two from the higher education sector, two from national third sector organisations, and one from a national organisation with a specific focus on workers' rights.
- Individuals: 11 responses from members of the public, including one from an MSP, and one from an individual working in the transport sector.
1.8 The Scottish Government required an analysis of the call for evidence responses and Craigforth were commissioned. We were passed full copies of all the responses and have undertaken the analysis work. The main role of the Scottish Government's Consumer, Competition and Regulatory Policy Unit has been to give feedback on the breakdown of the groups and on factual issues.
1.9 The remainder of this report presents an analysis of all submissions. This includes the balance of views on the closed Agree/Disagree questions by respondent group, and a summary of key issues raised by written responses. Our analysis has sought to identify motivations for Agree/Disagree responses, and to highlight where views are specific to one or more respondent types. The analysis has been based on eight broad themes which are a particular focus for the Panel's work. The remainder of this report considers these themes in turn:
- Peer-to-peer accommodation;
- Transportation and logistics;
- Collaborative financing;
- Balancing competition and regulation;
- Workers' rights;
- Implications for taxation;
- The changing role of consumers; and
- Creating social value and supporting public services.
1.10 It should be noted that the purpose of the report is to reflect the balance and range of views and opinions expressed by respondents to the call for evidence. It does not seek to assess the factual accuracy of any specific points being made, nor to provide any policy recommendations.
Email: Corey Reily, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House