Earn extra cash delivering stuff on your way to work?

parcel deliverySocial media has changed lots of things in life, and those of us who are a little older than Facebook are thankful that our teenage years are not recorded in a series of drunken photos stored somewhere on the internet forever. But social media and social sharing are also spreading away from the screen, with more and more ‘sharing economy’ businesses springing up, Uber and Airbnb being the most successful. But could you use some of the newer apps and sites, not only to save you money, but also to make a few extra pennies? For example, you could become the modern-day equivalent of a delivery boy…

More and more people are  using new ‘marketplace’ websites like Nimber and TaskRabbit to see if they can make some extra cash for doing something they were going to do anyway, like driving from London to Birmingham, for example, or even just commuting across  London. These sites don’t require deliverers to have a specific licence or any special qualifications, the idea being a simple social/community based premise that the sender can save on postage costs and that ‘bringers’ can earn money for something they are doing anyway, perhaps helping mitigate their own rising commuting/travelling costs.

According to Nimber, around 100 people a day are using the website to cut costs or earn cash, with items delivered ranging from guitars, to legal documents, to fresh flowers. Bringers set their own rate of pay when they offer jobs, or can accept jobs for a pre-agreed price- for example, one user charges around £5 for a short delivery trip through London.

And now is the time to jump onboard- for now the site doesn’t  even charge anything nor take any commission on delivery jobs, presumably while the brand is built, but Nimber says it will be introducing fees in the future.

So what’s the downside? Well, the first thought is that the delivery person you have never met might actually decide to take your item and run off into the sunset with it, rather than delivering it safely to its intended destination. While Nimber cannot prevent this happening, of course, they do actually insure your delivery item up to £500. So it’s a risk, but you would get your money back if it did happen.

However, critics also argue that these ‘sharing economy’ websites, like Nimber, Airbnb and Uber lack the regulations and safety standards offered by more professional, established businesses. We all know what ‘proper’ black cab drivers think of Uber. However, other than not having a reputation for running off with packages, we’re not sure what training, qualifications or regulations would be desperately relevant to occasional parcel passing-on.

But there is one definite downside, and it’s one of the certainties of life. Apparently, HM Revenue & Customs are already ‘in talks’ with the new industry group, Sharing Economy UK,with a view to producing "a standardised guide to alert people using such websites of the need to declare earnings via a self-assessment tax return." An HMRC spokesman said: "Any trading income is taxable in the normal way. If there is an intention to make a profit, then the trader has a legal obligation to let us know."

What do you think?

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