John McDonnell, David Cameron and the growth of the UK co-operative economy

It is great news today that the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, commits 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 compares 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 suggests 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.

I will blog soon on mutual guarantee societies to say more of our work on this innovation for enterprise finance.
The Shadow Chancellor also cites 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. And he commits to reversing the cuts in support for community energy ventures.

This is the most far-sighted speech from a front rank UK politician since January 2012, the start of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives – and the speaker in question then was… David Cameron.

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