Shake-up of Co-op law on the way

The Government has announced wide-ranging plans to modernise legislation affecting co-operatives — and also credit unions — following a year-long consultation process with the Movement.


The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Kitty Ussher MP, told the recent Congress 2008 in Blackpool that steps to update many aspects of co-operative legislation will begin shortly.

 

This will include:

Allowing mutuals to grow . . .

• Raising the £20,000 limit on withdrawable share capital

• Provision for societies to apply for a higher transferable share capital limit on a case by case basis

• Expanding the role of non-user investor members

Cutting red tape by . . .

• Permitting electronic communications between societies, members and authorities

• Allowing societies to choose their own year end

• Abolishing the requirement to have interim accounts audited

Creating a level playing field with companies to . . .

• Allow directors to give a service rather than personal address

• Align duties of co-operative officers with those of company directors

• Align the application of company rescue and administration regimes

• Align other guidance on service contracts and loans

• Align the minimum age for being a co-operative officer with that of company directors at 16 years

• Abolish the minimum age for being a member of a mutual society

• Improve processes for the dissolution of dormant societies

“The majority of this work will be completed within a year,” said Co-op Party chairman Gareth Thomas. “The Treasury will shortly bring forward measures that will include a range of statutory instruments and legislative reform orders that will update as much legislation as possible as soon as possible.

“The remaining items that require primary legislation will be separately drafted now, ready to be taken forward when Parliamentary time permits.”

Added Mr Thomas: “This is the latest stage of a comprehensive legislative reform programme that Co-op Party MPs have worked closely with the Labour Government on for the past few years and could only have been achieved through our partnership with Labour.”

• Kitty Ussher’s Congress speech and the proposals for credit unions — page X.

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