The impact of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union is just starting to be felt. As our economy begins to adjust to the reality of life outside of the EU, it is clear that more of the same is not an option. We need new ideas, a fresh approach and alternative models of ownership.
When I look at the co-operative movement I see a positive vision for the future. Through the strength of our common endeavour, democracy, and accountability, thousands of co-operatives and mutuals across our country are allowing people to pool energy and resources to meet local needs. Our values and principles are a beacon which, if followed, promise a different way for communities, individuals and organisations to develop a shared economy.
I am proud to live in the Liverpool City Region which has such a strong tradition of co-ops and mutual organisations. The first Liverpool Co-op Congress was held in 1832 and we continue to benefit enormously from the strength and sustainability of co-operation and mutualism. Our region boasts retail co-operatives, housing co-operatives, co-operative sports clubs, credit unions, independent worker owned businesses and indeed even our river pilots organised around co-operation.
This is the modern co-operative – providing secure homes, stable finances and savings, value for money shopping, and accessible sport. From creches to funerals, there are co-ops from cradle to grave. In a post-Brexit world of insecurity and risk, co-ops are providing stability and support and generating billions of pounds each year in the process.
With the right leadership, co-ops can help us to meet some of the biggest challenges we face as a region and as a country. I am determined to work with the wider co-operative family to bring the best of our movement to the fore.
I want to develop an energy co-operative to rebalance our energy market away from the Big Six energy companies. This will help to keep the cost of bills down, make our homes more energy efficient, and end the threat of fuel poverty for the most vulnerable in our society.
By supporting community ownership of assets, co-operatives can play a role in helping to increase the supply of affordable housing, while also creating employment opportunities in the construction industry and stimulating economic growth. I want to support and nurture more housing co-operatives to give tenants a real say and stake in their area.
I want to harness the potential of co-operation and mutualism in our region. In an unstable world, co-operatives send a clear message – we can do better than zero hours contracts and tax dodging, exploitative, short-term operators. Our society can be democratic, accessible to all and owned by everyone. That’s why I will be speaking in Parliament today to make the case that co-operatives and mutualism are about our future, not the past, and I am proud to call myself a co-operator.
Luciana Berger is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree and is standing to be the Labour candidate for Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region