Co-operators will meet in Cheltenham at the end of January to discuss how the government’s Better Regulation initiative could affect the sector.
The Future Co-operatives conference, which looks at the influence of legislation on co-operative businesses, will include a presentation from the New Economic Foundation’s Christine Berry , who wrote the report Threat to Democracy.
The report argues that the Better Regulation initiative has created “a large and unaccountable bureaucracy” which makes it “more difficult for government departments to pass laws which impose costs on businesses”.
The conference will examine a number of the measures in the initiative, including a ‘one in, two out’ rule which prevents government departments from implementing new laws that impose £1 of cost to business unless they also repeal £2 from elsewhere, regardless of social or environmental benefits.
The report challenges a narrative that equates regulation with unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy, arguing that Better Regulation is bad for the economy, society, environment and democracy in general.
Other panelists include: David Button, former chair of Co-operatives UK and an expert in government food and farming policy and the food and farming industry; Dave Cuthbert, a retired fishermen and director of a Plymouth fish market set up when the local council’s market failed; Jerry Percy, director of Low Impact Fishers of Europe who works at an EU level to try to make sure that small operators are not squeezed out by big business interests; and Ruth FitzJohn, president of the Midcounties Co-operative and chair of ²gether NHS Foundation Trust.
Conference organiser, Co-operative Futures deputy director Jim Pettipher, said: “Better Regulation seems to have completely passed UK co-ops by, so the Future Co-operatives conference will take up the challenge.
“We believe the Better Regulation initiative is a threat to democracy and worse. We believe it directly threatens co-operative values and principles. And we believe that co-operatives might offer a better solution – one that protects our society and our environment.”
More details on the conference, including how to book, can be found on Co-operative Futures’ website.