The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has launched an independent report, commissioned by the Co-operative Party, setting out an ambitious vision for a UK co-operative sector double the size it is today.

Titled ‘Co-operatives Unleashed: Doubling the Size of the Co-operative Economy’, the independent report calls for significant expansion of the UK co-operative sector, bringing it closer into line with other OECD countries. It outlines five  steps that policymakers could take to achieve this aim.

These steps, which combine legal, regulatory and institutional changes include:

  • A new legal framework for co‑operatives.
  • Finance that serves the co‑operative agenda.
  • Deepening co‑operative capabilities through a Co‑operative Development Agency.
  • Transforming business ownership.
  • Accelerating community wealth building initiatives.

Welcoming the Report, Claire McCarthy, General Secretary of the Co-operative Party said:

“The Co-operative Party is ambitious for the co-operative movement, which was why we commissioned this major independent report by the New Economics Foundation. The nation which gave birth to the modern co-operative movement deserves a sector at least comparable in size and impact to that found in other countries.

“Today’s report fires the starting gun on an exciting, and desperately needed, transformation of our economy. The recommendations provide a roadmap to a better, fairer and more productive economy that delivers rewards to the many. It is unashamedly ambitious and demanding; and challenges policy makers to think bigger.

“The benefits of co-operation are clear, we know that substantial growth in the sector provides a true alternative to business as usual. The co-operative movement and its political party stand ready to play our part.”

A key insight of the report is new research which finds there are around 120,000 family-run small and medium enterprises in the UK expected to undergo a transfer of ownership in the next three years, and that if just 5% of these businesses were supported to make the transition to employee ownership or one of the other mutual or co‑operative models available in the UK, then the number of entities in the sector would double.

Read NEF’s commentary on the report’s findings and download the report itself here