12 Ideas for Local Government Manifestos – Co-operative Party

12 things you can do

Ideas to work co-operatively in local areas are becoming more and more relevant to the challenges we see in our communities. Through the work in Preston to introduce community wealth building, to over 80 councils who have signed the Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern Slavery, our ideas are providing practical solutions for local Councillors.

Community Wealth Building is a whole-area approach to local economic development, focused on ensuring that wealth created in the community stays there. Co-operative and mutual enterprises need to be at the heart of rebuilding an alternative economic model - by existing to provide a service for their members rather than generate profits for external shareholders, they’re the key to creating an economy that puts people before profit.

A good first step is to work with local anchor institutions (including your own council) on their procurement policies, ensuring as much of their spending power as possible benefits local people and is channelled through co-operatives and social businesses.

What you can do:
  • Read our 6 steps to Community Wealth Building and assess how your council can establish community wealth building.
  • Pass a motion at council, like Sunderland Council, setting out your commitment to community wealth building.
  • Develop proposals on supporting the co-operative sector to grow – from creating a local co-operative development agency, to business advice and start-up loans.

Preston has used community wealth building to regenerate the city and become the most improved city in the UK.

Whether it's a much loved community centre, a post office or a pub, if it's owned by the people who use it, it can't be sold off to the highest bidder. Using the Localism Act, councils can help communities take control, and ensure there are no community deserts - places where there are no assets or resources within a reasonable distance of their communities.

What you can do:
  • Look out for our new campaign at Labour Local Government Conference on 6th and 7th February 2020.

8 million people in the UK have trouble putting food on the table and 500,000 people used food banks last year. Up to 1 million people live in food deserts without easy access to good quality, affordable food.

There are many ways that councils can champion food justice in their communities, from tackling holiday hunger and supporting local foodbanks, to community growing projects and co-operative allotments.

What you can do:

  • Pledge to have a lead member for food justice and look at establish a local food action plan
  • Work closely with your local food partnership or explore setting one up
  • Sign up to our food justice campaign here.

Billions are missing from our public purse because some companies choose to avoid paying their corporation tax. This means that not only is less money available for the vital public services we all rely on, but that the smaller, local businesses in our borough/ city can’t compete because it’s not a level playing field.

What you can do:
  • Ensure all suppliers are transparent about their tax arrangements
  • Sign up your borough / city to the FairTax Mark.


General Secretary Claire McCarthy and Co-operative Party MP Seema Malhotra celebrate the Party being awarded the Fair Tax Mark in April 2016

Every day, more than 250 retail workers face violence, just for doing their jobs. Six of those incidents will involve a knife, and two a gun. A lot of these shops sit in the heart of the community, and these instances impact on the workers and sense of safety in the community.

What you can do:
  • Work with trade unions like USDAW to raise the profile of this issue and ensure your community safety and policing plans tackle the issue of violence against shop workers and recognise the impact on the individuals and community.
  • Within your own council, you can find out how the issue affects your community and how police partnerships are tackling it.

Delegates at Co-op Party Conference take a stand against violence, threats and abuse towards shopworkers.

By the end of 2021 it is predicted that almost one in four households will be renting privately. These renters too often experience poor quality homes, insecure tenancies, punitive lettings fees and growing rents.

By coming together renters can support each other on issues to do with renting, provide constructive input to new council policy and collectively campaign for better conditions.

What you can do:
  • Establish a private tenants’ association to give private renters a voice and the ability to collectively organise for better conditions
  • The lettings market isn’t working for landlords or tenants, so set up a landlords’ co-operative so that landlords can avoid the high charges from private lettings agencies and tenants can get a fairer deal

Co-operatives can play a role in helping to increase the supply of affordable housing, while also creating employment opportunities in the construction industry and stimulating economic growth.

What you can do:
  • Champion and enable the development of community land trusts by providing feasibility and technical advice
  • Integrate Community Land Trusts into public land disposal or planned developments
  • Provide loans to community-led and co-operative housing schemes to enable them to start-up and grow
  • Prevent unscrupulous developers from avoid their commitments to build affordable homes by making all developers’ viability assessments public

London's first community land trust, the St Clement’s project, on the site of an old hospital.

Community enables people to come together to control where their energy comes from, contribute to a sustainable future, generate local benefit for their neighbourhood, and create jobs and training opportunities for local people.

What you can do:
  • Provide seed funding and start-up loans and ensure easy access to the relevant council departments for advice and necessary permissions to community energy schemes
  • Make leases to publicly owned land which is appropriate for solar installation available to community energy schemes, like the roofs of council estates and libraries

Residents celebrate the opening of Brixton Solar 1, the UK’s first inner-city, co-operatively owned renewable energy project on a social housing estate. The project involved the installation of a 37.24kWp solar power station on the roof of Elmore House on Loughborough Estate in Brixton, South London.

1.7 million people don’t have access to banking in the UK, and too many residents in our borough/ city are denied access to mainstream finance.
A broken washing machine or new school uniform can be enough to push hard squeezed families over the edge. Credit unions are community-based financial co-operatives, owned by members that offer fairer financial services for their members.

What you can do:
  • Implement payroll deduction for credit union saving to your own employees and make this a requirement for private organisations tendering for public contracts
  • Offer a credit union account with an initial deposit to every primary school child

Rainbow Saver Anglia Credit Union Ltd opens its second shop in April 2013. It has been trading since 2003, with 4,500 members in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and South Norfolk.

The traditional models of top down governance and economic growth are no longer fit for purpose. We are clear that in our borough/ city, decisions should be made closer to the people affected by them.
One area is our social care system which is in urgent need of reform. The market in social care services is broken – incentivising a race to the bottom on quality and workforce conditions, a lack of accountability, and de-personalisation of services. One way to address this is ensuring your social care system champions service users not shareholders

What you can do:
  • Commit to involve service users in commissioning, design and delivery of services
  • Give young people a voice in decisions which affect them, using co-operative models to enable young service users to choose and commission services
  • Take full account of social value in commissioning and procurement

Councillors in Lambeth hear from members of the Young Lambeth Co-operative, which was set up as a partnership by young people, community members and Lambeth Council to shape the delivery of services for young people in the Borough.

Modern Slavery is the one of the great evils of our time and it’s happening under our noses. In nail bars, car washes, farms, factories and restaurants, it is estimated that tens of thousands of people in the UK could be victims. Over 80 councils have signed our Charter Against Modern Slavery, make sure your council does too.

If you have already signed, make sure you report annually, and you may want to consider producing your own transparency statement.

What you can do:
  • Lead a local awareness-raising campaign so that businesses and residents can spot the signs and report incidences of exploitation
  • Sign our Modern Slavery Charter
  • If you have signed, look at how you ensure the actions are taking place.

The Co-operative Party's Charter Against Modern Slavery has now been signed by over 80 Councils across the country.

Local buses provide a lifeline for communities missed off the map of the commercial providers – ensuring people have an affordable way to travel to school, work, the shops, local amenities and vital services.

What you can do:
  • Join the People’s Bus Campaign to protect community bus operators from Tory threats and to widen access to affordable transport
  • Support communities to set up their own people’s bus service in areas underserved by the big for-profit providers through advice and funding
  • Review procurement strategies to ensure community transport gets a fair treatment

After the private sector withdrew services from Witney in Oxfordshire, Co-operative Councillor Laura Price supported residents to establish a not-for-profit community transport firm, West Oxfordshire Community Transport, to step in and continue vital services.