UK co-operative and social economy sector responds to election result

Statements of support to deliver Labour’s pledge to double co-op economy have been shared

Leaders from across the UK’s co-op and social economy have sent messages of support to the newly elected prime minister Sir Keir Starmer, following Labour’s victory in the 2024 General Election. 

With 649 of a total 650 declared, Labour has won at least 412 seats, including 43 standing as Labour & Co-operative.

Related: Record number of Co-op MPs in Westminster after Labour landslide

UK co-op leaders sent Starmer a joint letter of support today, congratulating the Labour leading and pledging their own support for co-operative action in line with his party’s manifesto. The letter’s 20 co-signees included co-operative retailers and wholesalers, agriculture and dairy co-ops, health and wellbeing social enterprises, as well as representatives of the community business, community energy, co-operative housing and worker co-op movements.

“As the leaders of the UK’s largest co-operative businesses, we offer you our full support in the delivery of your manifesto and your missions”, said the letter, describing Labour’s aim to double the size of the co-operative and mutual sector as a “huge vote of confidence” in its businesses and movement. 

“We are eager to work in partnership with your government to achieve this ambition, supporting new cooperatives to form and existing ones to thrive. In doing so we can make a significant contribution to inclusive growth, economic security and net zero, everywhere.”

Related: Co-operation: a tool for the next government?

Members of the Future Economy Alliance (FEA), a collective of businesses, activists and third-sector organisations calling for economic reform in the UK, also welcomed the incoming Labour government.

FEA chair Arvinda Gohil said: “It’s exciting to welcome a mission-led government that has committed to supporting mission-led business models. We look forward to working together with the new Cabinet and civil service colleagues on the bold reforms needed to build an economy where all of society profits.” 

Emily Darko from FEA partner Social Enterprise UK also said they are excited to work with the country’s new political leaders to “unleash the potential” of mission-led businesses and “fix our economy for generations to come.”

Welsh co-op development organisation Cwmpas CEO Bethan Webber said it is time to put co-op and mutual models “at the heart of our economic strategy – empowering workers and communities to find solutions to the stark challenges we face. We will continue our work with Governments in Wales and Westminster as we seek to build a stronger, greener, and more co-operative economy.”

Chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association, James de le Vingne, said they are “committed to supporting the new government to grow mission-led businesses”, and look forward to working with the new cabinet “to dial up the impact of a thriving employee ownership sector.”

Leaders of mutual trade bodies including the Association of Financial Mutuals, the Building Societies Association, ABCUL, Co-operatives UK, also wrote to the prime minister today to offer their support in helping to deliver growth and sustainable benefits to wider society, as well as a ten-point plan for a new mutual and co-operative empowering government. 

The plan includes proposals to appoint a minister for Mutuals and Co-operatives, mutual and co-op training for civil servants and special advisors, and a council to partner with  the government to deliver its pledge to double the size of the co-operative and mutual sector.

“The co-operative and mutual sector is united around an ambition for growth and clear policy priorities for unlocking it,” states the letter. 

“Labour’s manifesto pledge to remove barriers to our growth, including access to finance, aligns fully with our preparations. We hope you will accept our invitation to create a meaningful covenant between mutuals and co-operatives, Government, and society, based on the purpose-driven business model that delivers real benefits to our communities and wider society.”