The Scottish Government already has the power to back co-ops in many ways. With further devolution promised in areas such as welfare, employment support and income tax, the possibilities for Scotland to pursue its own economic and social ambitions, conceivably including a more co-operative economy, will soon be significant indeed.
So it is vital that those serving in Holyrood after next year’s election understand what co-operatives offer, and how their policies can harness this potential.
We are developing a vision for a more co-operative Scotland guided by two things: what our members in Scotland need, and what it will be in the gift of the next Scottish government to do. We have already identified three policy areas where the next Scottish government, whatever its hue, should involve co-operatives, below.
As a first step, we would like to hear from Scottish co-ops and their supporters about what they think a co-operative vision for Scotland should look like. We would be particularly interested to read about the following:
- How could the Scottish government better support your co-op?
- What opportunities do you see for Scotland to develop more co-operatives, and how do you think this could be achieved?
Please send any comments or proposals large or small to [email protected] by end of 27 September 2015.
Three priorities from Co-operatives UK
Community ownership. The rights and opportunities for communities to own and control the things that matter most, from local services to village pubs and renewable energy, have been greatly enhanced in recent years. The next government should build on this work to ensure community co-ops are both numerous and strong.
Co-operative care. It is increasingly understood that decent care cannot be a commodity to be split into 15 minute packets. The numbers cannot be made to add up and the human cost of service failure is a cause for shame. Decent care must be about relationships, reciprocity and community. Scotland can avoid the for-profit route and develop co-operative approaches to care where people and relationships come first.
Enterprise support. Scotland already leads the UK in providing enterprise support for co-ops, whether helping employees to buy their business when the owner wants to sell or putting farmers’ co-operatives at the heart of food and farming strategies. But there is more the next Scottish government could do to encourage the growth of co-ops. Evidence shows that entrepreneurs motivated by collaborative ends tend to be more successful, and government has a role in ensuring that business support programmes make it as easy to start and run a co-operative as any other business.