For the 90th Anniversary Conference last month, the Co-operative Party commissioned a YouGov poll which reflected overwhelming support for organisations that put consumers first and act in their interests.
Key findings of the poll are that:
People in the UK trust co-ops or mutuals far more to deal fairly with their customers than either Government or private companies
A massive 90% of the public would trust a co-operative or mutual to deal fairly with its consumers, in contrast with 20% who would similarly trust a shareholder owned company and 32% who trust Government-run organisations to deal fairly with their customers.
People who use public services feel they do not have enough of a say in how they are run.
Public Transport – across the country, 74% of the public feel that they have too little say in how public transport is run. This rises to 82% among people who commute most days.
Education – similarly, 57% of parents of children attending state schools feel they have too little influence – adding urgency to the need to consult more with the public, as announced by the Government last month.
Utility Companies – 68% of the public feel that people who run major utility companies do not make decisions in their interest.
The poll goes on to confirm that the public feels disengaged from many decisions they are interested in.
London 2012 – 72% of the public feel they have too little say in the work of the Olympics Delivery Authority, which is responsible for a £9 billion budget. 61% of all respondents feel they have ‘too little say’.
Professional Football – 58% of football supporters feel they have too little say in the way their club is run.
The poll emphasises the strong support that the public feels for co-operatively owned organisations, at the same time as illustrating the undercurrent for more influence on issues that affect their lives.
So the clear message for service providers in both public and private sectors is that people are demanding a say – a say in the provision of services and planning of major projects. For policy makers then, the key challenge lies in providing sufficient means for communities and individuals to be engaged from day one in decisions that affect their lives.