MP tables bill to help co-ops raise private investment for green projects

The private members bill, from Labour MP Anna McMorrin, is similar to a law introduced last year in Australia

A private members bill to help co-ops unlock sustainable investment, and create local green jobs and skills, was tabled in the House of Commons last night.

The Green Share Bill, introduced by Labour MP for Cardiff North, Anna McMorrin, would allow co-ops and community associations to raise private investment capital for environmentally sustainable purposes. Ms McMorrin says this could boost local communities and economies by developing green jobs and skills. It is also hoped the change would lead to cheaper, greener energy; warmer, more energy-efficient homes; and cheaper, more sustainable locally sourced food. 

Examples given include the retrofitting of existing housing association homes or the construction of zero-carbon new-build housing stock; the expansion of renewable energy co-operatives, and the community ownership of water utilities.  

The bill is also includes safeguards to protect co-ops from individuals or businesses which seek to liberate or asset strip a legacy asset through demutualisation.

Anna McMorrin

Currently, co-ops and mutuals cannot raise money by issuing transferable shares. Instead their capital comes from retained earnings or reserves built up over time, and various forms of withdrawable capital or debt.  

As a result, they less money to invest, to innovate and to grow their businesses. Ms McMorrin hopes the Green Share would create a level playing field for co-operatives and mutuals with their private competitors. 

Similar legislation was enshrined in law in Australia under the Treasury Laws Amendment (Mutual Reforms) Bill 2019.

Ms McMorrin said: “My Green Share Bill is an opportunity to use investment for the common good. To effect real change from the ground up, not only for the benefit of our communities, but to help tackle the single most important issue our planet faces for our future generations.

“The climate catastrophe is the greatest challenge of our generation. We’ve seen this evolve from theory to reality and now we need to make laws to enable our communities to rise to the challenge. This bill does just that as well as bringing secure green jobs and growth across the country including to those areas which have seen huge job losses. 

“This really is a win-win for people, communities and investors, providing secure, green jobs and skills and creating a better, more sustainable living environment for all.” 

Joe Fortune, general secretary of the Co-operative Party, said: “It’s great that there is an opportunity in this bill to begin this work. The Co-operative Party is looking forward to working with Anna McMorrin over the coming weeks and months to get this bill on the statute book.”

The bill has its second reading on Friday 27 March. 

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