Press release

Labour Shadow Chancellor pledges to double the co-operative economy

Co-operatives UK has welcomed the announcement (Wednesday 20 April) by the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, that the Labour Party will aim to double to the size of the UK co-operative sector if in power, as a way to boost the economy.

Drawing on figures from our co-operative economy report, he compared the size of the UK co-operative sector to counterparts in Europe, saying “We should be more ambitious about what can be achieved here. We want to see resilient, high-productivity businesses in an economy that is fairer for everyone. The next Labour government will look to at least double the size of the co-operative economy. That’s a £40 billion boost to the economy."

His suggested mechanisms for supporting the growth of the co-operative sector chime with a number of our policy proposals, including legislation for 'mutual guarantee societies' which will enable small businesses to pool resources in order to access much-needed finance and support for self-employed workers to form co-operatives, both of which are recommendations from our latest report on freelancer co-ops that picked up significant media coverage.

The Shadow Chancellor also cited the limited resources allocated to co-operatives in central government, which points to our case for consolidating responsibility for co-ops in the department for business.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, welcomed John McDonnell's support. He said: "Today’s announcement from John McDonnell is a welcome endorsement of the difference co-operative businesses make, both to individuals and to the economy as whole.

“The aspiration to double the size of the co-operative sector resonates deeply with Co-operatives UK’s strategy. The action the Shadow Chancellor suggests, including new legislation and allocating more resources in government to support co-operatives, are among proposals that can help deliver this step-change.

"Our report released earlier this month, Not alone, set out the case for co-operative solutions to some of the insecurity faced by freelancers, and we are delighted to see the Shadow Chancellor highlighting this potential and endorsing our recommendation for legislation that will help small businesses club together as co-ops.

"Co-operatives are owned and supported by people of all political parties and of none, whether as customers, employees or local residents. We have and continue to work across the political spectrum to support the development of a more co-operative economy. Labour’s political leadership on this issue and announcement today that co-operatives are an essential part of Labour's vision for a 'better, fairer economy’ is welcome indeed.

"We look forward to working with the Labour Party, as we do with other parties in Westminster and the devolved nations, to put this into effect."