Press release

UK government urged to invest in employee and worker ownership

A new campaign launched today (22 July 2019) calls on the government to set a target for #1MillionOwners by 2030

Working in partnership with the Employee Ownership Association, Co-operatives UK is calling for the UK Government to invest £2 million in the upcoming Spending Review and create a clear national policy objective to support a voluntary expansion of employee and worker-owned businesses, including worker co-operatives and employee ownership trusts.  

Evidence shows that growing employee and worker ownership – businesses that give employees a stake and a say - would help Government achieve its objectives for a more productive, inclusive and balanced economy, with more good work and widespread wellbeing.

Supported by leading employee and worker owned businesses, the #1MillionOwners campaign launched today calls for £2.17 million to be allocated over the next three years with an ambition to create one million worker and employee owners by 2030, addressing some of the challenges currently facing the UK economy.

The £2.17 million would help five local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) pilot an intervention to address what evidence suggests are the biggest barriers to the more widespread adoption of employee and worker ownership: a lack of accurate information and helpful advice; and a lack of awareness, practical understanding and confidence in these models among entrepreneurs, business owners, workers and those who advise them.  

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK said:

“When it comes to reducing wealth inequality, driving employee engagement and tackling regional resilience, employee and worker ownership offers a proven solution. The UK’s best employee owned businesses and leading worker co-ops can be the answer to a more inclusive economy at a time of great economic uncertainty, and we’re urging Westminster government to match the Scottish ambition for a fivefold increase in the number of employee and worker owned businesses by 2030.”

Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the EOA said:

“Now is the time for UK government to invest in creating more businesses that have a proven record of accomplishing and sustaining higher productivity, greater economic resilience and having a wider impact on the regions they operate in. Not one dissenting voice has followed recent high profile employee ownership transitions such as Riverford, Aardman and Richer Sounds. In fact, there was universal political support as well as a positive endorsement by commentators in tabloids and broadsheets. We have great examples from across the UK of employee and worker owned businesses of doing well while doing good – it is very clear the UK would benefit from having more of them.”

These regional pilots will help the UK to increase the adoption of employee and worker ownership at start-up, through evolution and via conversion at the point of succession.

Scottish Government currently invests around £500,000 each year in a very successful awareness raising and advice programme that has mainstreamed employee buyouts as a route for planned succession. This demonstrates how modest funding properly spent can help expand employee and worker ownership. 

Together we can win practical government support for employee and worker ownership and build a fairer more democratic economy. 

Pledge your support for the #1MillionOwners campaign today.