25 Nov 2014

Sharing is caring? Expanding UK’s co-op economy

From empty spare rooms to community dog-sitting, Channel 4 News gets an exclusive look into a new report which suggests as much as a quarter of the UK population are part of the sharing economy.



According to the report, the UK is aiming to become the world’s “leading sharing economy“, with the sector expanding significantly. The market is reportedly worth as much as £9bn, with this set to rise exponentially to £230bn by 2025.

The report written by sharing economy expert Debbie Wosskow alongside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, estimates that 25 per cent of the UK adult population are sharing online in some way. And it says that figure could increase to 70 per cent if the service was more widely available.

Ms Wosskow said: “The opportunities within the sharing economy are not just for big businesses, and many – particularly young people and women – are already making the most of these opportunities.

“They have the potential to turn the UK public into a nation of micro-entrepreneurs – making money through the assets and skills that they already have, and saving money by accessing goods and services rather than buying them outright.”


So who is part of the share economy?

Col Skinner, founder of digital consultancy Profoundry, told Channel 4 News that what attracts him to share services is a “mixture of things from convenience to price”.

Mr Skinner, from Manchester, said he uses a number of different services including monetised peer-to-peer property rental company Airbnb as well as creative marketplace Fiverr.

The 27-year-old said: “We have become more accustomed to share everything from our personal info on dating sites, daily updates on social media and our ideas on crowdfunding sites.

“A lot of these sharing sites feel less like a selling environment with pressure sales tactics and more casual.

“I mean it has helped me in my personal and business life a great deal […] Sourcing logo ideas and concepts using Fiverr.com to finding a room hotel for a conference on Airbnb. I work in a co-working space which is a real world example of a shared economy.”


Casserole Club

Janet Oran, from Tamworth, and Clare Bradford were the first pair matched up in the Casserole Club

Casserole Club is one of many schemes in the forefront of the digitalised platforms. It allows people to share their meals with elderly people who cannot cook for themselves.

Clare Bradford, a chef and baker by trade, was the first person to be paired up in the scheme. She shared her meal with 92-year-old Janet Oran from Tamworth, in Staffordshire, who happens to live around the corner from her.

Ms Bradford said: “I think Casserole Club is a great project and it’s such a simple idea. I’m a chef by trade, so love cooking. And, as a chef I always cook far too much so it makes so much sense to share any extras with people who aren’t able to cook for themselves. It also saves eating the extra portions yourself just so you don’t waste them!”

Borrow My Doggy

Sam Lovell, a full-time student at Nottingham University, took part in the initiative, borrowing Buster the Cavachon dog for a day

While some peer-to-peer services cater for appetites, BorrowMyDoggy is designed for dog owners seeking a break and dog fanatics in need of some canine company. Rikke Rosenlund, the founder of the company believes she has helped people through divorce and depression. And her company, though not making a profit yet, is growing fast.

Tomorrow’s report is expected to open up the “exciting possibilities” of sharing cities, encouraging residents to share as part of their daily lives.