To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to allocate financial support for cooperatives; and what support his Department is making available to simplify the process for establishing such cooperatives.
The Government recognises the value of co-operatives, and the contribution they make to all sectors of the economy. The first phase of our economic response has seen us take unprecedented steps to support the economy through the crisis; to keep as many people as possible in their existing jobs, to support viable businesses, including co-operatives, to stay afloat, and to protect the incomes of the most vulnerable. Co-operatives, like other businesses, have been eligible for a range of Government support schemes, including the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, grants delivered by Local Authorities and business loans.
The Government has taken significant steps to support the growth of co-operatives right across the country. In 2014 the Government passed the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act, to reduce legal complexity for co-operatives and community benefit societies, and at the same time increased the amount of share capital an individual member can put into a co-operative society to £100,000.
HM Treasury officials also hosted a ‘Mutuals Workshop’ with representatives from the sector in 2019, to understand the challenges faced by mutuals and how Government can help to address these.
As we start to open the economy up and we look forward, we will consider how best to support the economic recovery. We will develop new measures to grow the economy, to back businesses, including co-operatives, and to help people thrive in the new post-Covid world. We will continue to consider how we can best support the co-operative sector to reach its potential, and welcome the views of Co-operatives UK and others in the sector as we do.