Trend

Britain leads the way in the controversial sharing economy

By Alex Wood 2 October 2015
Uber London, part of the sharing economy
Summary

Despite the bad press, we can't get enough of services like Airbnb and Uber.

The idea of hailing a cab using your smartphone or paying to stay in a stranger’s home would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago, but we Brits are hooked.

Getting an Uber or staying in an Airbnb has become the norm. Companies like these have seen a meteoric rise, making Britain the European capital of the so-called Sharing Economy.

But the ride has been far from smooth. These services may make our lives more convenient, but they have seen fierce resistance from angry taxi drivers causing punch ups at City Hall, to policymakers deliberately trying to make them less attractive.

Can’t stop progress

Government clampdowns and full-blown taxi strikes have done little to dampen our enthusiasm. This week Transport for London launched a consultation on app-based taxi services, which was quickly panned by the public. If successful, the changes could mean customers waiting up to 5 minutes before taking a ride with Uber – a move designed to level the playing field with black cabs. It quickly backfired, with a petition attracting hundreds of thousands of signatures in a matter of days.

Read more: Does Airbnb herald the death of the hotel?

Research from JustPark, the leading app for finding a parking space has confirmed Britain’s love for the so-called Sharing Economy. As part of the most comprehensive review to date, JustPark found the UK is now home to 10% of the world’s sharing economy businesses – more than France, Germany and Spain combined.

The sharing economy may be marmite for some, but with PwC predicting the sector to grow to £9bn by 2025, this is one trend worth watching.

Top 20 Sharing Economy Cities

City

Count

San Francisco

131

New York City

89

London

72

Paris

24

Boston

20

Los Angeles

18

Sydney

14

Madrid

13

Toronto

13

Austin

11

Chicago

11

Seattle

11

Berlin

10

Amsterdam

9

Santa Monica

9

Washington

9

Bangalore

8

Mountain View

7

Mumbai

7

Tel Aviv

7