Today's Queen's Speech was a missed opportunity to adopt co-operative solutions. Here are some of the priorities we would have liked to have seen included.

This week the Government provided the Queen’s Speech, outlining its legislative agenda and key policy proposals for the coming Parliamentary session.

Much of what the Government intended to do was already known from the commitments made in its election manifesto, but this was an opportunity to include policies that would provide a real boost to the co-operative sector and put co-operative values and principles at the very heart of our approach to some of the most pressing issues we face.

Below is the Co-operative Party’s own proposals for what we would have liked to have seen included the Queen’s Speech, setting out a number of key legislative ideas to make these co-operative ambitions a reality.

1) A new plan for a co-operative economy…

…setting out measures to put the co-operative sector at the core of our economy. With our economy at a crossroads, a commitment should be made to double the size of the co-operative sector, with a new Co-operative Development Agency established with the remit of managing this growth.

A cross-departmental Minister for Mutuals should be created, with a specific responsibility for working across the Government to ensure policy and legislation works for co-operatives.

A greater consideration of diversity of corporate form should also be embedded in law, including an amendment to the impact assessment on new parliamentary legislation and regulations to ensure consideration of consequences of new policy on the co-operative sector.

The UK Fair Tax Mark would also be instituted by law, to ensure tax transparency and make sure firms doing the right thing are rewarded.

2) A new bill for local empowerment

…to cement the principle of subsidiarity in communities and provide an updated vision of localism. It must rebalance power by starting from a point of community empowerment, rather than top-down reorganisation, and changes building on the Localism Act and Social Value Act are a start.

The Bill would take the necessary steps to give communities a greater say in how decisions are made, but also control over the assets within them. A right to buy, not just a right to bid, on open spaces and assets of value to the community should be legislated to give local people a real option to own them, and include a longer lead-in time for bids to be organised.

The proper consideration of community assets in local planning should also be required by law, whilst Regional Co-operative Development Agencies and a possible expansion of the requirement for triple bottom line reporting into the wider economy can help boost co-operation within communities.

3) A Fair Food Act…

…putting an end to the food poverty and hunger people experience in one of the richest countries on earth.

Achieving food justice and tackling hunger is a huge endeavour and will require profound, long-term, concerted change, but legislation that enshrines a commitment to zero hunger by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal 2) into UK law is the way to start.

4) A Protection of Shopworkers Bill…

…providing specific standalone legislation to give shopworkers better protection against violence when enforcing legal age requirements.

Shopworkers across the country are regularly faced with violence, aggression and threats when enforcing the law with regards to age-restricted products, and existing laws to prevent this are proving insufficient.

We should develop legislation that specifically addresses this scourge – similar to the co-operative inspired Bill currently making its way through the Scottish Parliament – to give shopworkers the requisite protection in law to prevent this aggression continuing to be a normal part of the job.

5) Measures to provide proper environmental protection…

…that fully addresses the biggest threat we face with a Co-operative Green New Deal. Steps should be taken to adopt the policies agreed at the Co-operative Party Annual Conference which can form the base of a practical approach to tackling the crisis in our environment.

For example, we should implement a green industrial strategy, and establish a new measure of economic success that is fundamentally underpinned with an understanding of environmental benefit.

But communities should also be encouraged and supported to take local approaches, and the Government should address regional imbalances, provide financial and practical support for the co-operative movement to set up and succeed in low carbon and green initiatives, and set in stone the requirements that will help individuals to make greener lifestyle changes.

6) Legislation for financial inclusion…

…that ensures communities are properly served and included in the financial systems they depend on. Financial and cash deserts should be addressed by giving co-operative and mutual approaches to banking and finance a greater role in the economy.

Existing legislation on financial institutions can be updated and built upon, and amendments made to boost alternative financial institutions such as credit unions, CDFIs, and building societies. Existing banks should also be mandated by law to serve individuals, communities and SMEs of all backgrounds, and report on what and where they lend.

For the first time, a fundamental right to universal access to banking should be established.

These measures would provide an instant boost to the co-operative sector and put its values at the very heart of our society.

But there is so much more to be done outside of these ideas, too.

The Queen’s Speech is an opportunity to take action on building fairer housing that includes provisions to boost co-operative options as well as practical solutions to the many problems in that sector.

On eliminating modern slavery, promoting responsible business, fairer workplaces, and so many other areas of society, co-operative ideas can provide solutions to the challenges faced, and legislative adoption of them would provide the impetus needed for an effective response.

It’s disappointing to see the Government did not seize the opportunity presented in the Queen’s Speech to announce vital steps along these lines, but ideas like those above provide a co-operative blueprint they would be sensible to adopt.