The collaborative economy connects individuals and communities through online platforms, allowing goods and services to be shared without the need for ownership. There is huge potential for the collaborative economy to contribute to the fairer, more socially responsible economy that we want for Scotland. Other countries are already realising this: a majority of the 150 sharing platforms in the Netherlands are social enterprises who have embedded the goal of having a positive social impact into their organisations.
The Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy was formed in April 2017. The Panel’s purpose was to provide advice and expertise to ongoing policy development on the collaborative economy and to make recommendations to Scottish Ministers on how Scotland can position itself to take advantage of the many opportunities of the collaborative economy. The Panel also considered how Scotland could overcome any regulatory, economic and social challenges.
This report sets out the Scottish Government’s response to the Panel’s recommendations. It outlines how we will build on our current actions in areas such as peer to peer accommodation, workers’ rights, crowd-funding, regulation and consumer protection to fulfil our ambitions for Scotland. Delivering wider public and social value is at the heart of our vision for Scotland’s collaborative economy. The Scottish Government’s new ShareLab Scotland fund will support organisations to develop and test collaborative platforms that deliver social and economic benefits to individuals and communities in Scotland.
When acting within a system of fair competition, empowered consumers support inclusive and sustainable economic growth. They enable businesses to innovate and grow in response to consumer need. The Panel makes recommendations around the rights and responsibilities of participants in the collaborative economy, both as providers and consumers. We are funding Citizens Advice Scotland to raise awareness of the rights of consumers, providers and others working in the sector and will work with Trading Standards Scotland to identify any limitations in consumer protection.
Fair work values, such as opportunity, security, respect and having an effective voice, are central to a more inclusive labour market – including in the collaborative economy. The Panel makes recommendations aimed at improving the quality of employment opportunities in the collaborative economy. The Scottish Government will engage with the Fair Work Convention, trade unions and platform hosts to help employers in the collaborative economy understand and embed Fair Work values.
As well as considering consumers and providers who are directly engaged in the collaborative economy, we must not stifle the creativity and innovation Scotland is recognised for. This means ensuring that our operating environment and regulations are proportionate, consistent, accountable, transparent and targeted.
We understand the calls for new controls over the short-term letting of residential properties in some areas of the country and welcome the Panel’s consideration of this issue. We must strike the right balance for our local economies and communities. We have to ensure that residents can find the right homes and that they can afford to live, and enjoy living, in their neighbourhoods. We also need to help tourists find places to stay. This is a complex issue but it is one that a number of cities globally have been tackling and we will make sure Scotland comes up with solutions to fit its distinct needs, whilst learning from other places.
To do this, we have established a Short Term Lets Delivery Group that is working across the Scottish Government to identify solutions to short term lets. The group will look at the existing powers local authorities have to deal with the opportunities and challenges, including those relating to planning and anti-social behaviour. We continue to work closely with the City of Edinburgh Council to explore how we can pilot solutions in Edinburgh and other local authorities, as recommended by the Panel.
We are committed to taking forward the Panel’s recommendations and engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, including communities, to shape and deliver a collaborative economy that works for all of Scotland.