• Four-fifths of Uber customers would use an ethical alternative – and over half would pay a higher fare to do so
  • App-based companies like Uber and Deliveroo are facing multiple legal challenges relating to the treatment of their workers
  • The New Economics Foundation is developing an ethical, driver-owned alternative to Uber to combat the trend toward insecure and precarious work.

New polling shows that 82% of Uber customers would likely use an alternative service with better rights for drivers.

According to the BMG poll [2] commissioned by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and Left Foot Forward, 54% of Uber customers would be willing to pay more for their journey if it meant that drivers got a fairer deal.

This follows news that app-based companies like Uber and Deliveroo are facing multiple legal challenges relating to the treatment of their workers. While some workers in the gig economy say they enjoy the flexibility offered by these companies, many are campaigning for basic working rights including regular contracted hours, holiday and sick pay.

The UK’s gig economy is expanding rapidly, and a large section of the country’s workforce are already in jobs that fail to meet even basic employment rights. In London, the number of gig economy workers in the transport sector has grown by 82% since 2010, according to recent analysis of new Government data [3] by the New Economics Foundation [4].

At the same time, the number of Londoners working for companies in the conventional transport sector has dropped by 9%. This suggests an ever greater proportion of Londoners are moving into insecure and precarious work.

Recent research by the New Economics Foundation found that two in five people in the UK workforce are stuck in bad jobs’ where they face insecure working conditions, are paid below the Living Wage, or both [5].

The latest findings come as the New Economics Foundation works to develop an alternative to Uber in the capital – a driver-owned platform app, provisionally called CabFair.

Stefan Baskerville, Director of Unions and Business at the New Economics Foundation, said:

These results show there is a strong demand for a more ethical alternative to Uber. The gig economy is employing more and more people, but there’s a huge imbalance of power. Customers want a fairer deal for cab drivers and many are prepared to pay a little more to ensure this.

At the New Economics Foundation we are seeking to develop a new ride-hailing app, owned by its employees and which would give a fair deal to both drivers and passengers. We want our alternative to keep transport accessible, low-cost, fast and easy for all.

We are working with trade unionists, tech partners and passengers to build something better than Uber – a driver-owned alternative that is just as convenient and competitive on price, but treats its passengers and drivers with respect.

We hope the new service will put drivers and customers firmly in control.”

Josiah Mortimer, Editor of Left Foot Forward, said:

Clearly there is a huge appetite for a ride-hailing app which respects workers’ rights, and gives a fair deal to drivers. Londoners want reasonable fares — but they don’t want to throw their morals out in the process.

In the wake of Sadiq Khan’s decision to revoke Uber’s licence, this should sound the alarm for Uber to up their game when it comes to giving drivers decent pay and proper employment rights.

There’s some real competition on the way, which could be a game-changer for the industry. Rather than throwing ethics by the wayside, Uber and other ride-hailing companies should take note.”

Notes to editors

  1. The New Economics Foundation is the UK’s only people-powered think tank. The Foundation works to build a new economy where people really take control. www​.newe​co​nom​ics​.org
  2. Source note: BMG interviewed a representative sample of 1,509 adults living in Great Britain between 5th and 8th December. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British polling council and abide by their rules. Full details at www​.bmgre​search​.co​.uk/​p​o​lling. The questions asked were: If there was an alternative to Uber that offered drivers greater employment rights, how likely would you be to use it?’ And If there was an alternative to Uber that offered drivers greater employment rights, how likely would you be to use it, even if this meant paying higher fares?’ All respondents who answered very likely’ or fairly likely’ are categorised as being likely’. The sample was of around 300 Uber users, with statistically significant results.
  3. Data sourced from BEIS Business population estimates as published on 30th November 2017. Available at: https://​www​.gov​.uk/​g​o​v​e​r​n​m​e​n​t​/​s​t​a​t​i​s​t​i​c​s​/​b​u​s​i​n​e​s​s​-​p​o​p​u​l​a​t​i​o​n​-​e​s​t​i​m​a​t​e​s​-2017
  4. Methodology: The UK government does not directly publish figures on the size or growth of those working in the gig economy. The methodology used in these calculations has been adopted from the Brookings Institute, whereby businesses” with no employees are used as a proxy for the gig economy: https://​www​.brook​ings​.edu/​r​e​s​e​a​r​c​h​/​t​r​a​c​k​i​n​g​-​t​h​e​-​g​i​g​-​e​c​o​n​o​m​y​-​n​e​w​-​n​u​m​bers/. These businesses” are often people who are effectively self-employed and being paid on a job-by-job basis. These figures also include those who have set up their own businesses but have not yet grown to employ staff. However, it is very unlikely that such cases could account for the dramatic increases in recent years. Analysis of similar trends in the US have found the growth of non-employer businesses tracks the adoption of platform economies in different cities. https://​hbr​.org/​2​0​1​5​/​0​8​/​t​h​e​-​g​i​g​-​e​c​o​n​o​m​y​-​i​s​-​r​e​a​l​-​i​f​-​y​o​u​-​k​n​o​w​-​w​h​e​r​e​-​t​o​-look . The calculations for London’s transport sector refer to SIC code H: Transportation and Storage. This category includes taxi services and couriers. A full list can be found here: https://​www​.sic​code​.co​.uk/​s​e​c​t​ion/h
  5. See http://​newe​co​nom​ics​.org/​2​0​1​7​/​0​8​/​b​a​d​_​jobs/