Recommendations for the Collaborative Economy in Scotland
Today the Scottish Government publish the findings and recommendations of my review into the Collaborative Economy. The Expert Advisory panel which I chaired was set up by Economic Secretary Keith Brown. For the last six months, a committed and energetic cross-sector panel have given their time freely to sift through evidence and debate the big issues with a whole range of stakeholders from communities, businesses, trade unions, public bodies and entrepreneurs.
The report contains some very specific recommendations relating to existing practice and operations of commercial marketplaces. Other recommendations are more general but just as important in my view. These include:
- Taking a position on proactively shaping and supporting a more inclusive collaborative economy. We spend the vast majority of our time focusing on the big, US commercial players. That’s entirely necessary, but it’s not sufficient. We need to support and scale the (very many) platforms which are creating a different kind of collaborative economy. One that presents a better deal for workers, offers employee ownership, enables greater voice and participation and finds better ways of connecting people to things they really need. This was the key reason I set up ShareLab while at Nesta – but we are still a very long way from fully realizing the potential of digital, collaborative platforms to work in the service of an inclusive economy in Scotland. It needs encouragement and incentivisation.
- Fair Work. Notwithstanding any emerging legislation as a result of the Taylor Review, or the advancement of the Workers Bill, which if enacted, will ensure that anyone doing paid work is treated as an employee/worker with full rights to holiday pay and other benefits, the principles of Fair Work must be the way in which we assess the experiences of people working in the gig economy in Scotland. That requires open, cross-sector dialogue. The commercial platforms on our panel are keen to continue their engagement with the Scottish TUC and the Fair Work Convention, and I’m looking forward to other commercial collaborative marketplaces coming on board too.
- Experimentation. Complex challenges require thoughtful responses, backed up by evidence. There is a clear need to set up an experimental space in partnership with regulators; with a focus on one or two specific regions in Scotland testing the impact and practicalities of specific regulations; with the freedom to iterate, refine, tear-up or expand as necessary. Long-term policy making, regulation and innovation in the market need to be more intimately connected. There’s also an additional need to incentivise innovators and/or the market to develop novel and effective ways of achieving the intended outcomes of regulation or creating better services for participants in the collaborative economy.
There’s much more in the report, and the Scottish Government will be publishing their response to the Review later in the Spring. What I remain hopeful of, is that given how much power we know rests in the hands of collaborative marketplaces, significant social and impact investment will begin to flow into this part of the economy. If it doesn’t, then we shouldn’t be at all surprised if we don’t get the inclusive economy we say we want.