Annex A: Key opportunities and challenges for the collaborative economy in Scotland
Respondents to the call for evidence raised a range of points in relation to the opportunities available for the collaborative economy in Scotland, and any potential regulatory, economic and social challenges and barriers to its growth.
They also provided a wide range of views on how to protect contributors to the collaborative economy (consumers, providers and businesses), how to balance regulation with competition and innovation, and the role that the Scottish Government should play in relation to the collaborative economy.
An analysis summarising these responses, produced by Craigforth  , was presented to the panel. This section provides a brief summary drawn from that report of some of the main points raised by respondents to the call for evidence in relation to the collaborative economy in general. Sector-specific and issue-specific opportunities and challenges are addressed more in detail within the relevant sections of the evidence paper.
- Scale and speed of recent and expected future growth in the collaborative economy.
- Role in increasing competition and choice, through an increasing range and diversification of both service providers (enabling more providers, including consumers themselves, to compete in the market) and products/services provided.
- Potential to drive innovation from both new entrants and established market participants.
- Role in expanding the number, diversity and flexibility of employment opportunities available.
- Potential to deliver social value and other benefits to communities across Scotland (and rural communities in particular), enabling better use of assets such as accommodation and vehicles, generating additional income for both individuals and communities, reducing environmental impacts, and improving sustainability.
- Extent to which existing regulations should apply to the collaborative economy, and extent to which they are fit for this purpose.
- Concerns regarding the potential for unfair competition between the collaborative economy and traditional providers, and extent to which a level playing field can be guaranteed to all providers.
- Concerns around workers’ rights and need for greater clarity regarding employment status and associated tax implications.
- Concerns around perceived negative impacts on local communities, particularly in relation to recent growth in short-term rentals and peer to peer accommodation.
Protection of contributors
- Concerns regarding a perceived lack of protection for some providers of collaborative services (particularly in relation to peer to peer transport).
- Concerns around a lack of agreed guidelines, codes of practice or other protections.
- Concerns that new entrants might not be aware of the regulations to which they are expected to comply.
Balancing regulation with competition and innovation
- A shared view that existing legislation and regulations are generally adequate.
- Concerns regarding the extent to which these regulations are actually being enforced, and need for better information on providers using the collaborative economy to support improved enforcement.
- Potential for unfair competition to arise from discrepancies in regulation and taxation between the collaborative economy and traditional providers.
- Specific concerns around workers’ rights and the implementation of tax regulations.
Potential barriers to growth
- Lack of awareness and understanding of the collaborative economy.
- Potential for misconceptions (for example, regarding lack of level playing field and negative impacts on communities) to undermine consumer confidence.
- Limited connectivity and access to finance.