Press release

Co-operative petition launched

Supporters launch the Co-operatives Fortnight petition outside Bank of England

An alliance of co-operative businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has launched a new petition on Monday 4 April outside the Bank of England.

The first of its kind, the petition calls for co-operative action to narrow the gap between rich and the poor in the UK.

With the gap at its highest since records began, the petition aims to get 100,000 people calling for national debate on narrowing the gap through action to share ownership and wealth in a co-operative way.

Over 25 prominent organisations are supporting the petition, including Friends of the Earth, National Union of Students, Mother’s Union, Groundwork, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the National Childbirth Trust and the Equality Trust.

The petition was launched outside the Bank of England by leading figures from the co-operative sector including Len Wardle, Chair of the Co-operative Group, Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK and representatives, young and old, from the co-operative sector and from NGOs.

The petition is being launched in the run up to Co-operatives Fortnight (25 June to 9 July 2011), the co-operative sector’s national campaign. With its theme of Yours to Share. The Fortnight is supported by co-operatives across the UK – businesses that give everyday employees, customers and residents an equal say in decisions and a share in the profits.

The petition can be signed and shared at

Len Wardle, Chair of The Co-operative Group, said: “With a retail outlet now in every UK postal area, we are very well aware of differences in peoples’ income and the impact that has on everyday lives.  Our recently-launched Ethical Plan ensures that ten per cent of our profits available for distribution will be put into community investment by 2013 with £5m specifically used each year to tackle UK poverty around our outlets – a clear indication of the difference Co-operatives can make to this issue.”

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, the national trade body for co-operative enterprises, said: “Evidence shows a growing gap between rich and poor in the UK. The richest 10% of the UK now has 100 times the wealth of the poorest 10%. This petition – which I think of as the ‘spirit level’ petition following the groundbreaking work of The Equality Trust – aims to trigger action to promote measures that will narrow the gap between rich and poor.

“As businesses that share profits, ownership and wealth, co-operatives are the perfect way to create a fairer economy.”

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), said: “We are delighted to be lending our support to Co-operatives Fortnight. Co-operatives have an integral role to play in building the good society, as they promote social justice and inspire people to make a positive difference to their communities.”

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “At Campaign for Better Transport, we believe co-operatives and mutuals can play a pivotal role in providing transport services that focus on the needs of local people. That’s why we’re proud to support the Co-operative Fortnight and its wider aims of narrowing the gap between rich and poor.”

Sign and share the petition and read more about Co-operatives Fortnight at

Co-operatives UK