12 things you can do

Too many regions and communities are being left behind by traditional trickle-down economics.

Local authorities can play a role in reversing this, creating community wealth from the bottom up by changing the way they spend their money and developing a more inclusive local economy that distributes rewards more fairly. Co-operative and mutual enterprises need to be at the heart of this – 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.

What you can do:
  • Commit to doubling the size of the local co-operative economy, in line with Labour’s manifesto pledge in the 2017 General Election.
  • Undertake a local co-operative health check, examining the size and state of the co-operative and mutual sector
  • 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
  • Make the public pound go further by committing to procure goods and services from local SMEs and co-operatives where possible, and asking other anchor institutions to do the same

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.

What you can do:
  • Lead a local awareness-raising campaign so that businesses and residents can spot the signs and report incidences of exploitation
  • Eliminate modern slavery from your supply chain by requiring all companies in receipt of public funding or contracts to have a Modern Slavery statement
  • Work with your suppliers to develop an ethical employment code of practice
City Councillor Tom Hayes and Labour & Co-operative MP Anneliese Dodds campaign on Modern Slavery in Oxford

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 Labour & Co-operative MP Seema Malhotra celebrate the Co-operative Party being awarded the Fair Tax Mark

Tenants and leaseholders should have a real stake and voice in their housing, and their concerns and contributions to the management of their own homes should be at the top of any political agenda.

What you can do:
  • Involve tenants at every level of decision-making, from a tenant and resident association on each estate to developing and scrutinising council policy
  • Lobby the Government to re-establish a National Tenant Voice so that the interests of tenants can be represented at the highest levels of policy making and regulation
  • Actively support tenants to exercise their ‘Right to Manage’ by forming Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs), with strong co-operative governance structures so all tenants have an equal voice and vote

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.

What you can do:
  • Create a voluntary landlords’ register so that private renters can choose to rent their homes from responsible landlords
  • 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
Community Land Trust on the former site of St Clement’s Hospital in East London, which was formed after a campaign led by the local community.

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.

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.

Our social care system is in urgent need of reform. Private companies profiteer, whilst older people, those who rely on social care and the staff that deliver it, pay the price. 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.

What you can do:
  • Put social care service users and workers in the driving seat by promoting co-operative approaches
  • Ensure a diverse market for social care by exploring opportunities to develop not-for-profit and co-operative provision
A service user and care worker at Leading Lives in Suffolk, an employee-owned social care co-operative.

Local communities have suffered seven years of Tory cuts to local services, which means funding for services they value has been stretched and some local community assets have come under threat.

What you can do:
  • Support residents to list assets important to them in your borough/ city as “Assets of Community Value” – then if they are threatened with closure the local community has rights to intervene
  • If local services are under threat, consider co-operative models, and ensure the support is available for groups wishing to take this forward
  • Put local pubs at risk of redevelopment into community ownership through the Community Pub Business Support Programme
When the Lamarsh Lion, a 700-year-old village pub in Suffolk was sold and risked being turned into housing, the community raised the £495,000 needed to buy the pub and bring it into community ownership.

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.