Following Theresa May’s election as leader of the Conservative party and the subsequent cabinet reshuffle, Co-operatives UK has expressed concerns about how co-ops fit into the new government department frameworks.
The apex body for co-ops in the country launched a consultation with members earlier this year exploring who in government has – and who should have – responsibility for co-operatives. It believes that because responsibility is currently scattered across different government departments, co-op enterprises are not on a level playing field with other businesses, and thinks the most effective way to address this is to transfer full responsibility to the department for business.
“If Theresa May’s economy is to work for everyone, policy making for co-ops and mutuals needs to be overhauled – and the current shake-up offers an opportunity to make that possible,” said James Wright, policy officer at Co-operatives UK.
“The policy brief for the new department, BEIS [Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] – which has a mission to cement the UK’s position as the best place in Europe to start and grow a business – confirms that is where responsibility for mutuals and the wider social economy ought to lie. Not only would it make it easier for the society legal form to be maintained […] but it would also mean societies could benefit from the deregulation agenda and business support.”
Mr Wright also believes the changes to departments, now or in the future, should also support and recognise the efforts already being made by the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to improve the registration of co-operative and community benefit societies and the continuing role of the FCA around financial service mutuals.
- For more info, visit www.uk.coop/bis-move