Co-ops are businesses owned by their workers, customers or community members, rather than distant shareholders. They put economic power directly in the hands of local people, and ensure the benefits of economic growth are felt by those who create it.
Too many people feel powerless over the economy, but we know that co-operative growth can help local people take back control by putting workers and communities in the driving seat.
Co-ops are built on a shared set of values and lead the way on ethical businesses practices, from paying their fair share of tax to protecting the environment. But co-ops aren’t just good for the world, they’re good for business too: studies show that co-ops are more productive and more resilient than traditional forms of business.
Co-ops are more ambitious, with 61% of co-ops expressing ambitions to grow compared with 53% of small businesses generally.
Co-operative start-ups are almost twice as likely to survive the first five years of trading than start-ups generally
Doubling the co-operative sector would grow the sector to 14,000 co-operatives. With the productivity boost that co-ops can bring, that could help improve the UK's economic productivity.
Economic growth is the oxygen for our ambitions. If economic growth over the last 13 years had been as strong as it was under the last Labour government, we would have £40billion extra to spend on the NHS and schools, without levying a single extra penny in tax.
But we know that growth is meaningless if it depends on creating low-paid, insecure jobs, or is centred on London and the South East while the rest of the country languishes behind. We need growth from the grassroots. Growth created everywhere, by everyone, for everyone.
Co-ops are well placed to help drive that growth, but a more co-operative economy won't happen by chance. It will require proactive intervention to widen ownership, change the way economic rewards are distributed, and shift the balance of power towards people and communities.
This means addressing the barriers that are holding co-operatives back: a lack of access to finance, a legal framework that disadvantages co-ops compared to other businesses, and a lack of public awareness about co-ops and the benefits they bring.
Every community should have access to practical advice and support on how to start and grow co-operative businesses.
Simply put, the law is written with more traditional, privately-owned businesses in mind – which often creates unexpected challenges for co-ops. It can take minutes to start a limited company but months to start a co-operative: we need to break down the barriers and extra hurdles that co-ops face, in order to supercharge their growth.
Those same barriers can make it difficult for co-ops to access finance: we need to make it easier for co-op start-ups to access the capital investment they need to thrive.
The South Yorkshire Ownership Hub is the first of its kind in the UK, providing training and advice to build inclusive businesses across the region.
Cwmpas has been supporting businesses in Wales to make the transition to employee ownership.
Growing the community energy co-ops could provide bottom-up, renewable solutions to our climate crisis, generate thousands of jobs, and keep bills down for consumers
Social care co-operatives can drive up standards, ensure better terms and conditions for staff, deliver better outcomes for patients.
81% of UK co-operatives are in ‘everyday economy’: the places and spaces central to our daily lives. Nowhere is that more seen on on our high streets, where community ownership has the power to reenergise and unlock the potential of our high streets.
We want to build a fairer, greener, more democratic economy by growing the number of co-ops in every sector. But this won't happen by accident – we need to keep making the case for co-ops and their role in our economy.
If you want to help, join us and add your name to become an official planner of our plan to double the size of the co-operative sector. We'll keep you up to date with all the latest news on co-operative growth and our campaign to ensure every community and a say and a stake in our economy.
Promoted by Joe Fortune on behalf of the Co-operative Party, both at Unit 13, 83 Crampton Street, London, SE17 3BQ, United Kingdom.Co-operative Party Limited is a registered Society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. Registered no. 30027R