The Ownership Commission, set up by the UK Labour government in 2010, last week published a report on its findings on British business ownership. The Commission, chaired by Will Hutton, was initially set up to look into how employee and cooperative forms of ownership might be applied in the UK public sector. The work was expanded, however, to look at British business ownership in general and the research now includes information on the mutual business model and other forms of employee ownership.
The Co-operative Group sponsored the report and CEO, Peter Marks, was one of its Commissioners.
Speaking ahead of the report’s publication Will Hutton said “The financial crisis and the protracted problems in its wake have opened up the debate about how well our economy is owned, run and managed...The heart of good ownership is engagement and stewardship expressed through as many ownership forms as possible. Britain will have a better performing and more resilient economy the more seriously it can develop better ownership….”
The Ownership Commission Report calls for changes in the British economy to see a bigger role for mutuals and co-operatives as well as private companies and employee-owned firms with a view to promoting a more "responsible capitalism".
The report also calls for measures to be introduced which would make it easier for mutuals to raise external capital, while it also says that employee-owned companies "shouldn't be taxed inappropriately". In a speech given by Nick Clegg last week, it was also announced that employee-owned companies could be given capital gains tax breaks under plans being drawn up and a six-month Treasury review of tax rules around such companies would take place.
In response to the launch of the Ownership Commission's report Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: "Co-operatives UK welcomes the publication of the Ownership Commission's report, which provides a welcome breath of fresh air in discussions about business ownership in the UK.
"We are pleased to see recommendations relating to increasing the diversity of ownership models and particularly pleased to see that attention is paid to co-operatives and mutuals as offering a responsible model of business ownership,” he continued. Ed went on to say that "There is clear evidence to support the Ownership Commission's recommendations that the diversity of the economy needs to be recognised and strengthened."