Another year, another Spring Budget from the Government – and another missed opportunity by the Government to harness the power of the co-operative sector. A far cry from a decade ago when the Conservatives at least paid lip service to being interested in co-operative ideas. It presents a real chance, as we finalise our national Labour Manifesto, for us to seize the initiative.

Last week, I felt this even more keenly when in the same week I reopened a building transformed by Hackney Co-operative Developments in Dalston. We know the importance of co-operatives to the economy and the potential they bring for inclusive growth. They are ambitious to grow, co-op start-ups are more resilient, and they improve economic productivity as well as better represent the diverse communities in which they operate.

In Hackney, we recognise this. This month at Full Council we passed our first truly Labour and Co-operative Budget, and in a year where we joined the Co-operative Councils Innovation Network. As a Labour and Co-operative Mayor, I am proud that we have a budget which has committed nearly £70k into delivering our manifesto pledge of supporting the creation of co-operatives to deliver services where there is market failure and there isn’t a robust business case for insourcing. This includes areas such as social care, affordable child care, and community energy.

The latter includes further investment to grow our municipal energy company, Hackney Light and Power, which launched a £300k Community Energy Fund last year and is a part of our drive towards a greener Hackney shaped by our citizens and powered by renewable energy at cheaper prices.

Hackney’s Budget also promotes our ‘Hackney SpaceBank’ initiative, which will bring together council owned buildings to ensure the Council is supporting local businesses, social enterprises, voluntary, community and third sector tenants through the properties it owns. We also now have a Council Co-operative and Social Enterprise Champion, Cllr Sam Pallis helping to lead this work.

What we are doing builds upon a strong historic foundation of co-operative values in Hackney, which has seen us in-house cleaning, gully cleansing, fleet maintenance, market stalls and parking services ─ nearly £12 million worth of contracts. In many cases this has reduced costs, while improving services for residents and conditions for newly insourced staff. We have also been a long term supporter of the Co-operative Party’s Food Justice campaign and in January passed a Council motion declaring Hackney a Right to Food borough. On top of this we also have a Sustainable Procurement Strategy, anchored in green, inclusive and fairer procurement and tackling Modern Slavery.

It was great to speak about Hackney’s latest steps towards a more inclusive economy at the London Co-op Party Conference and learn from colleagues across the capital. It is clear that across the country these ideas are taking root in the Labour Party, our communities and in Co-operative Councils. However, to achieve growth by the many, for the many on a national scale, we need a national budget which recognises this work and the power of co-operatives and co-operative values.

The big bold ideas developed by Keir, Rachel and Ed for a fairer, greener Britain and GB Energy, can and should be used, as the Co-operative Party has argued, to unlock the power of community and municipal energy across the country to deliver zero-carbon electricity by 2030. To truly unlock this potential we need a Government – a Labour Government – which backs co-ops, puts them at the heart of ‘taking back control’ and net zero, and commits to doubling the size of the sector in our economy.