Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 10th March 2020 Blog Westminster Economy Share Tweet With the last Budget delivered well over a year ago, the opportunity for the Government to address many of the obstacles facing people across the country is long overdue. Some of these challenges are relatively new: it’s clear that the Coronavirus outbreak is going to have a serious impact on the global economy and how the Government responds to this is likely to dominate the coverage. But Coronavirus is not the only crisis facing the country and the Government must now act to fulfil the promises they have made. The UK productivity crisis, serious regional inequality, public services underfunded and under strain, rising food bank usage, and more rough sleeping are just some of the hallmarks of this Government. This Budget is a vital chance for these to be properly addressed, and quite apart from the inevitable rhetoric, the real test will be whether the Government can deliver. There will be many solutions and ideas offered, but as a proud Labour and Co-operative MP, I want to see the budget make the most of the co-operative movement and harness the force for good it has to offer. Because co-operation offers an antidote to so many of our economy’s failings, and by creating the conditions that allow this movement to flourish we can establish a fairer and more equitable economy. The Chancellor can start by closing loopholes that allow multinationals to cut corners and avoid tax. Companies should be required to demonstrate basic standards of tax transparency through measures like the Fair Tax Mark, for instance, allowing co-operative and SMEs to grow whilst big business play by the same rules. Measures should be set out that level the playing field and address the legislative and regulatory framework that is designed for privately-owned businesses at the expense of co-operatives. There should be a firm commitment to driving up productivity by increasing the size of the co-operative sector, and to actively promote diverse forms of businesses by differentiating corporation tax treatment of social, private and PLC businesses. And business rates should be reviewed to support local businesses and high street shops, rather than online retailers who can register activities overseas. Co-operative businesses have been shown to be more resilient, more likely to survive through the initial difficulties many businesses face, and more productive. They provide a service for their members, putting people before profit or lining the pockets of external stakeholders. And they hardwire the values of solidarity, mutual self-help and care for the community back into our economy. Despite only having had a short time to prepare for this week’s budget, I am sure the Chancellor will not be short on proposals that he thinks will tackle the challenges faced by our country. But for any Chancellor serious about creating a fairer economy, taking advantage of those ideas offered by the co-operative sector would be a good place to start.