Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered his annual Autumn Statement at Westminster today but a number of British startups believe he’s missed a key opportunity to support them.
Sharing economy startups — those that allow individuals to share their homes and possessions in return for a fee — were particularly disappointed.
Sharing Economy UK, a trade body that counts the likes of Airbnb, Hailo, BlaBlaCar, JustPark, and Hassle.com as members, wanted to see Osborne introduce a sharing economy tax relief so that individuals could earn tax-free money when renting out their belongings.
Debbie Wosskow, chair of SEUK and Founder and CEO of Love Home Swap, said: “I am disappointed today that more hasn’t been done to support the individuals who want to supplement their income by renting out spare rooms, unused storage or space in their driveways.
“A sharing economy tax relief would encourage individuals to unlock previously unused or under-used assets, helping these microentrepreneurs to make and save money. What’s more, changes from the government on this matter would be a bold statement that the UK is leading the charge globally in best harnessing the sharing economy.”
Earlier this year, the Chancellor announced changes to the Rent-a-Room allowance, meaning that from April 2016 homeowners will be able to earn £7,500 tax-free by renting out a room in their property, up from the current limit of £4,250.
But Wosskow wants the government to do more.
“More can be done by extending this tax relief to £10,000 and also broadening the remit to include driveways and unused storage,” she said.
Startups also criticised Osborne for failing to allocate further funding to improving the UK’s broadband network.
“Today’s budget will be a disappointment to many colleagues within the technology community,” said Richard Higgs, CEO of Scottish data centre and cloud provider, brightsolid. “While broadband was mentioned in the full spending review policy paper — which is really encouraging — the details were missing in Osborne’s speech. Despite having recently promised to make access to fast broadband a legal right for everyone by 2020, the omission in today’s announcement suggests that internet provision is not seen as a priority.”
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