Solutions

Introduce a Co-operative Economy Act

Introduce a Co-operative Economy Act

A legal framework tailored to the needs of co-operatives and supportive of their future development.

A Co-operative Economy Act must address the current disincentives to co-operative growth that exist in regulation and law, ensure co-operative wealth is rooted in the wider co-operative economy, and create the conditions for the accumulation of co-operative capital and commercial expansion.

A Co-operative Economy Act should establish the legal framework, financial instruments and institutional mechanisms needed to:

  • Create an asset lock and common indivisible reserves
    An asset lock would ensure there can never be a benefit from cashing out’ via liquidating or selling the co-operative, keeping co-operatively earned wealth within the co-operative economy. 
  • Introduce a right to own
    A right to own would support employee buyouts and the co-operatisation of existing businesses.
  • Introduce a duty to develop the diversity of corporate form
    The government must provide official recognition of co‑operatives as inclusive business models, and introduce a new statutory duty to foster diversity of corporate forms to help enable a new culture of co‑operative entrepreneurship, and broader pluralism of ownership in the economy as a whole. 
  • Establish a Co-operative Development Agency
    To strengthen the development of the sector, a Co-operative Development Agency for England and Northern Ireland should be established on a statutory basis. This would mirror the institutional support provided to co-operatives in Scotland and Wales.

Policy in practice

Projects that demonstrate the benefits or may be helped by polices like this.

  • Richer Sounds
    Founder Julian Richer transferred 60% of his shares into a John Lewis-style trust.
  • Novograf
    Former owners sold leading signage company to its workforce.
  • Scallywags nursery
    Parents collaborate with skilled staff to provide high-quality affordable care at this well-established nursery.
  • North West Mutual
    Community bank will help local businesses and individuals neglected by mainstream banks.
  • Equal Care Co-op
    Co-op matches those seeking care with care workers and professionally trained volunteers.
  • Riverford Organics
    Riverford switched to employee ownership to protect its values and independence in 2018.
  • The Larder
    This workers' co-operative connects local growers with businesses in the fightback against food poverty.
  • Aardman
    Founders of UK’s biggest animation company handed 75% share to employees to ‘safeguard independence’.
  • Schools’ Energy Co-operative
    Schools’ Energy Co-operative has installed solar panels on schools across the country, working with a network of local groups.
  • Robert Owen Community Banking
    Ethical fund provides finance for small businesses, home improvements and community energy projects.