Money For Old Rope

A growing number of people are looking to the ‘sharing economy’ for income generation, says Gill Wadsworth

It was with great fanfare that the government welcomed in tremendous new freedom for pensioners to spend their hard-earned retirement funds as they so wished.

It was a shame, however, that the corresponding economic environment, with its low interest rates, volatile stock markets and rising inflation, meant that relatively few retirees had a pot of sufficient size to really capitalise on this new found freedom.

Of course, being able to make more decisions about how to spend your pension – so long as they are informed – is something to celebrate, but it may be that individuals need to do more than rely on a retirement fund alone to support them in their dotage.

A growing number of people are turning to the Internet to boost their income, taking advantage of the rising number of simple, yet effective, websites that help you to share your resources in return for cash.

The sharing economy, where individuals hire out or rent goods and services, usually over the Internet, has taken off at an incredible pace in the UK.

According to auditor and consultant PwC, the UK’s sharing economy has grown the fastest in Europe, with transactions almost doubling in just one year to reach £7.4 billion in 2015.

SHARE YOUR HOME

Arguably the most famous example of the sharing economy is Airbnb, which allows people to list their own properties as holiday homes. The company, founded in 2008, has had more than 60,000,000 travellers through its ‘doors’ over the course of eleven years.

Renting your home through Airbnb is simple. You apply to the site, a photographer is sent to take photos of your property and then you appear in the listings.

How much you charge is up to you and you are responsible for bookings, home safety, all the insurance and adherence to national laws.

“Always be careful when renting your home or driveway”

For example, short-term rentals in Greater London are subject to planning restriction, so using your home as a temporary B&B is seen as a “material change of use” for which planning permission is required.

While all this might seem a bit of a faff, proponents of the sharing economy claim the money more than compensates for any hassle.

Shaff Prabatani, sharing economy advocate and co-founder of Storemates, which helps people rent out storage space in their own homes, says he has been able to pay for his family’s annual holidays by renting his home on Airbnb.

Mr Prabantani says: “We only do Airbnb when we go away for a weekend or on holiday. We went away for two weeks and another family stayed in our house and that paid for the holiday. People treat our house with respect and we’ve never had a single abuse of trust.”

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