What should government do to help us reimagine work and wealth creation, so that they deliver better outcomes for more people? Because it has to do something. Here's an idea.
Last week we cerebrated one year of The Hive, our business support programme for co-ops, by releasing an inspirational short film 'Reimagine work'. The film, which so far has been viewed 37,000 times, features Leeds Bread Co-op, a successful worker-owned start-up that has benefited from expert advice through The Hive at a crucial movement in their development. The film was made by Blake House Filmmakers Co-operative.
We'd like government decision-makers to see this film for two reasons. Firstly, in three minutes it captures how co-ops combine solidarity with pragmatism and enterprise, to demonstrate how Theresa May's 'Inclusive Economy' could actually work. And secondly, it shows the huge potential for practical, local business support tailored to co-ops to make a real difference in people's lives.
The Hive, which has already helped 100 co-ops nationwide, will cost just £1 million over three years. Right now government spends £220 million a year giving tax breaks to just 40,000 executive shareholders. Imagine if we stopped doing that, and used even a small portion of that money to fund practical help for ordinary working people to own and control their livelihoods? Well, in the run up to Budget Day (8 March) this is exactly what Co-operatives UK and 180 other co-ops and individuals asked the Chancellor to do, as the Daily Express reported last week and as we and a number of worker co-ops wrote in the Guardian.
We have now sent a letter to the Chancellor, informing him of the co-op movement's strong support for our Budget submission, and inviting him to watch our 'Reimagine Work' film.
Since we have not heard from HM Treasury since making our pre-Budget submission, we can only assume that our call has not been heeded - not yet at least. It is possible that the two executive tax breaks, CSOP and EMI, will be curtailed or abolished. If this happens we can at least assume to have added to the moral pressure on the Chancellor.
We'll be watching the Budget with keen interest. This is a long-term agenda and, if there's no progress in this area, the Chancellor should expect us to redouble our efforts ahead of the Autumn Budget at the end of the year.