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.
Tags Democratic ownership
Policy in practice
Projects that demonstrate the benefits or may be helped by polices like this.
Founder Julian Richer transferred 60% of his shares into a John Lewis-style trust.
Former owners sold leading signage company to its workforce.
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 switched to employee ownership to protect its values and independence in 2018.
This workers' co-operative connects local growers with businesses in the fightback against food poverty.
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.