Once again, the Co-operative Party is proud to be leading the charge towards diversity in local government, aiming to have decisions made by people who truly represent and reflect the areas they govern.

This year, worrying statistics from the The Fawcett Society and Democracy Club suggest that just 34% of candidates for local councils this year are women. At the Co-op Party, we have been building our recruitment and training to ensure we are standing more and more diverse candidates, and are proud that this year that women will make up 44% of candidates standing for Co-op. This means that the Co-op Party has the highest representation of women standing in May 2024 elections of any major party.

Our own Co-operative Party Women’s Network showcases the excellent work of intersectional sisters throughout the movement. Co-operative councillors are removing barriers to diversity through the Diverse Councils Declaration, one council at a time. Our bespoke Chris Herries Development Scheme (in partnership with Labour Women’s Network) is empowering a generation of Co-operative Women leaders. Our hard work is bearing fruit – but we’ve still some way to go to achieve parity.

In terms of Police and Crime Commissioner candidates, Co-op will be standing 42% women, compared to just 26% across England and Wales. While Mayoral roles will be contested by 38% women compared to 27% nationally. And in the London Assembly, 62% of Co-op Party candidates are women.

The spike in women candidates coming forward and standing for the Co-operative Party this year – an increase of 5% since 2023 – is testament to the work put in, particularly by leading women within our party who spend time mentoring and training up the next cohort.

We are proud of our diversity, but know we still have more to do to increase and improve our political representation. 16% of our candidates this year identify as BAME, 22% have a disability and 15% are LGBTQ+. Additionally, 20% of our candidates this year have caring responsibilities for young children.

Further, Co-op candidates range in age from 18 to 87,  and this year we are seeing a slight shift towards candidates being younger, while the current average age of a Co-op councillor is just shy of 56 years, the candidates’ average age this year is 52.5 years.

All this is why, more than ever, we need more councils taking forward our Diverse Councils Declaration, to ensure our elected representatives reflect the diversity of their community, particularly those with protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation).

Creating change takes a proactive and ambitious approach. Working together we can build on this success in local government throughout the country. We at the Co-operative Party are proud of our proven track record in achieving greater diversity, and keen to build on this success.

Good luck to all our candidates today, and for those who are councillors after May 3rd, let’s get the Diverse Councils Declaration on the agenda, find out more here: https://party.coop/diversecouncils