Vince Cable MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, told delegates to the Co operatives 2009 conference in Old Windsor that co-operatives can provide a solution to the current economic crisis and he said he wants to work with them to achieve their full potential.
Dr Cable outlined the causes and effects of the downturn and the legacy it will leave. He then set out his thoughts on how we can get out of the mess we are in.
'We need new types of ethical investment and new types of enterprise such as co operatives, mutuals and social enterprises,' he said.
He explained the main issues that need to be addressed if the economy is to get back on track. We need to rethink from first principles what the banking system is there for; we need to look at new ways of delivering public services because public spending will be cut dramatically in years to come; we need new ways of delivering housing - especially housing for social need - and we need to think fundamentally about the way companies operate as existing systems of corporate governance have failed.
He suggested that co-operatives (which are democratically owned and controlled by their members and follow a set of ethical values including social responsibility and caring for others) could play a key role in providing solutions to these challenges.
Above all, according to Vince Cable, 'we need to stop people going back to where they were before the crisis', and he offered to work with the co-operative sector to help achieve this.
Co-operatives 2009 is organised by Co-operativesUK and is the annual conference for the whole of the co-operative movement, which includes high street co-operatives, worker co operatives and other employee-owned businesses.