UK.gov crackpots: Let's build vapourware-based sharing economy CITIES

Minister parrots platitudes at scared technophiles

Toilet

The creation of entire "sharing economy" cities, mandatory use of Airbnb and Uber for civil servants, and the "opening up" of UK.gov's vapourware Verify service to business are just some of the latest crackpot "sharing economy" recommendations from the government.

The response from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to an "independent" sharing economy report last year said the government should pilot a UK "sharing city".

In it, shared transport, shared office space, accommodation and skills networks will be joined together and "residents are encouraged to share as part of their daily lives”.

Whitehall should also "lead by example" by getting civil servants "to use sharing economy solutions to book accommodation and transport when travelling on official business".

It said it wanted to open up the Government Digital Service's identity assurance services – GOV.UK Verify – to private sector services this year – to ensure that nobody will be able to identify themselves online.

Potentially more worrying was the recommendation that the Disclosure and Barring Service should fully digitise criminal records checks, "so they can be done quickly, more cheaply, and be integrated into third-party services such as sharing economy platforms".

In his introduction to the report, minister of state for Business, Enterprise and Energy Matthew Hancock said the sharing economy "everyday entrepreneurs" are the "challengers, the innovators and the agitators – constantly seeking to shake up the market".

Hancock was responding to the “Independent Review” of the sharing economy written by Debbie Wosskow, chief executive of sharing economy company LoveHomeSwap.com. He said the entirely self-interested report was "a thorough, insightful and truly cutting-edge review".

The Sharing Economy UK trade body was established earlier this month.

Mark Field, Conservative MP for Cities of London & Westminster, said in a Parliamentary debate last week that it was "essentially a front for a commercial campaign".

He said: "Frankly, it is akin to setting up a trade body of payday lenders to dictate financial services policy. I am sorry that the wool is being pulled over the minister’s eyes as these self-professed independent voices dictate a commercially advantageous landscape.” ®

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