Labour Manifesto maintains pledge to double the size of the UK co-op economy

Co-ops are also included in the party’s plans to drive home-grown energy production

The Labour Party has revealed its general election manifesto, which includes a commitment to double the size of the co-operative economy, a pledge retained from its 2019 manifesto.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer made the announcement at an event held at the Co-op Group’s service centre at 1 Angel Square in Manchester on 13 June.

“What a place to launch our plan,” he said, “the home of the Co-operative Group, an organisation that has long believed, as we do, that the pursuit of social justice and economic growth must go hand in hand.”

The manifesto says a Labour government would “support diverse business models” which bring innovation and new products to the market. “This includes the co-operative sector, and we will aim to double the size of the UK’s co-operative and mutuals sector. We will work with the sector to address the barriers they face, such as accessing finance,” it reads.

Co-ops are also included in the party’s plans to drive home-grown energy production, which will include creating a new publicly-owned company, Great British Energy.

“Great British Energy will partner with energy companies, local authorities, and co-operatives to install thousands of clean power projects, through a combination of onshore wind, solar, and hydropower projects,” reads the manifesto. The move was particularly welcomed by Community Energy England, who said it would “unlock huge benefits for local people”.

“Community energy projects deliver 12-13 times the community benefit of commercial energy installations so are uniquely well suited to engage local people to participate in the energy transformation,” said CEE CEO, Emma Bridge. “Labour’s Local Power Plan is a win, win, win for communities, local economies and the country.”

Starmer speaking at the launch of the manifesto in Manchester

Other Labour commitments include: plans to raise taxes by £8.5 billion a year over the next parliament; bringing the leasehold system to an end; building 1.5m new homes over the next five years; and introducing legislation to remove the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords, along with mandatory retirement age and a participation requirement.

Labour also stated it would explore a new governance model for Royal Mail so that workers and customers have a stronger voice, and create a specific offence for assaults on shopworkers that protects them from threats and violence, building on the work of the Co-op Party and co-operative retail societies.

The co-operative and mutual sectors welcomed Labour’s Manifesto.

“Today, when the Labour Party launched their manifesto, we saw so many Co-operative priorities become Labour pledges,” Co-op Party secretary general Joe Fortune wrote in an email to its members.

“We will build a fairer economy by doubling the size of the co-operative sector. We will build hundreds of new community-owned renewable energy projects across the country. We will transfer power out of Westminster, and into our communities with new powers for local areas. We will make high streets safer for shopworkers and shoppers by bringing in a new law on protecting shopworkers. These policies will change communities up and down the country.

“But first, we need to get as many Labour and Co-operative candidates elected as we can,” he added. 

Peter Hunt, CEO of Mutuo said the manifesto marked “the beginning of a major opportunity for the co-operative and mutual sector to work closely with the next government to deliver more co-operation, fairness and social justice through a growing sector of customer, employee and community-led businesses,” adding that Mutuo will “redouble its efforts to promote and support our sector in this effort”.

Related: Co-op and mutual leaders call for political support as UK election looms

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: “Labour’s significant commitment on doubling the co-operative and mutual sector caps off what’s been a great manifesto week for the democratic economy – with the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Greens all including excellent and very welcome manifesto commitments. These include commitments around community ownership, energy co-ops and mutual banking. 

“Clearly the polls give Labour’s commitment today (13 June) extra significance. The co-operative businesses we champion and represent are ready to partner with the next government, whoever wins on 4 July, to deliver the inclusive and sustainable growth our country needs – and we’ve a strategy for achieving that growth.

“Working alongside our members, we’ve pinpointed five policy priorities that will help unleash co-operative potential, and we’ll be presenting our policy plan to the next government.”

What support for Co-ops and Mutuals is being pledged by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens?

There is support from the Conservatives to extend the Community Ownership Fund and explore the creation of regional mutual banks. They also pledge more support for community housing schemes and community-led landscape recovery schemes – alongside a Civic Service funding to community groups “focused on increasing life chances, instilling civic pride and boosting people’s skills”. Like Labour, the Conservatives support tougher sentences for violence against retail workers.

From the Liberal Democrats comes support for the expansion of community energy, with a focus on grid reform – requiring large energy suppliers to work with community schemes to sell the power they generate to local customers and reducing access costs for grid connections. The Lib Dems’ manifesto also says they will strengthen powers to protect community assets and provide support for community sports clubs. “

The Lib Dems are also “the only party to make an explicit reference to employee ownership,” said James de le Vingne, CEO of the Employee Ownership Association, with a commitment to promote employee ownership through “giving staff in listed companies with more than 250 employees a right to request shares, to be held in trust for the benefit of employees.”

“Their drive to strengthen worker participation in decision-making, including staff representation on remuneration committees, and requiring all UK-listed companies and all private companies with more than 250 employees to have at least one employee representative on their board, is also commended,” added the EOA. 

The Green Party manifesto cites the creation of a Co-operative Development Fund, and pledges support for community energy, region mutual banks and the transition of private businesses into mutual organisations, especially at the point of succession.

Read more about Co-operatives UK’s call for co-operative growth at