Politicians are being urged to to ensure that rail passengers, newspaper readers and football fans have the chance to take ownership of the assets and services that most matter to them.
With just months until the general election, the Social Economy Alliance’s report, The Right to Invest, has called on political parties to embrace the idea of a “popular, democratic, asset-owning economy”.
Describing it as an idea that “combines the best of left and right”, the Alliance highlights comments by figures from the three main parties. The Liberal Democrats’ Ed Davey has introduced the idea of a right to invest in renewable energy, Conservative Francis Maude has championed mutuals in public services and Labour leader Ed Miliband wants to give employees a right to employee ownership.
The report looks at the problems and opportunities across renewable energy, football clubs, housing, press, rail and banking, examining what could be achieved with a right to invest. Ideas for bolstering current investment rights include giving people more influence over services and prices.
Challenging the parties to “capture the imagination of a disillusioned and disempowered electorate,” the report has made a number of recommendations.
• Extend the Community Right to Buy to businesses of community interest as well as assets
• Introduce new models of community financed infrastructure to improve upon the widely discredited Private Finance Initiative (PFI)
• Extend the Social Value Act to the management and disposal of assets
• Explore the introduction of a new right to invest systematically across critical areas of the economy
• Quickly enact a mandatory right to invest in renewable energy at around 25% of projects 1MW and above, and extend this to offshore enterprises.
• Use the tax system to incentivise more socially and environmentally responsible business models.
“This idea can reconnect UK citizens with the economy around them,” said Dan Gregory, director of the alliance. “The things we care about are owned and controlled offshore, anonymously or by a handful of powerful individuals. We need a right to invest, which could work, not only in energy and football, but in housing, rail, press and banking and more.
“We need a more social economy – one which offers the many, and not just the few, the opportunity to invest in the assets and infrastructure that support our livelihoods, our well-being and the daily essentials of life in the UK.”
The report is supported by Supporters Direct, Co-operative Energy and the National Community Land Trust Network.
Ramsay Dunning, general manager of Co-operative Energy, added: “Residents of the UK have less of a stake in the UK’s renewable energy assets than do citizens of other countries. Communities up and down the country have demonstrated an appetite to own a meaningful stake in projects. What is needed is an impactful, mandatory right to invest.”