As the politically independent voice of co-ops in the UK, we look forward to working with the incoming Conservative government.
Co-ops are a proven, pragmatic tool for people to work together and achieve their aspirations for stronger communities, better work and a more fulfilling, sustainable way of life. A thriving co-operative economy will be critical in helping the Conservatives achieve many of the aims set out in their manifesto.
Most notably, the co-op model is already at the heart of community ownership in the UK. The Conservatives have promised a £150 million Community Ownership Fund. To get value for this money, the fund will need to support community co-ops. We’re particularly keen for some of the fund to be used to support Community Shares. We have already begun consulting key partners and experts and will publish an evidence-based position in due course.
Co-ops are also central to Conservative ambitions for community-led housing. Our top priority here is for the government to take action in the upcoming Budget, to stop a subset of housing co-ops being wrongfully taxed as if they are ‘property enveloping’ schemes.
Conservatives have committed to empowering communities in local economic decision-making. We’ll be advocating for this to include genuine community-led economic development wherever appropriate. Co-ops naturally play a key role in enabling communities to take greater control in their local economies.
The importance of co-ops to the Conservative agenda suggests the new government should take steps to ensure the UK is a better place to start and grow these fantastic businesses. We’ll hope to pick up where we left off with HM Treasury on measures to make life easier for mutuals. This government also plans to reform insolvency rules. This is something we are currently helping officials with, to ensure co-operative and community benefit societies are not overlooked. We will also be asking the new government to move responsibility for co-ops from HM Treasury and the Office for Civil Society, to the Department for Business, where it belongs.