This was a missed opportunity for the government to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to a green recovery.
The government’s refusal to support proposals to increase the spending power of cooperatives was a “missed opportunity” for the green recovery, according to the MP who promoted it.
Labour MP for Cardiff North, Anna McMorrin, had the second reading of her private members bill, the Green Share Bill, on Friday.
The bill aimed to allow cooperatives and member-owned businesses to raise finance for projects such as the retrofitting of housing association homes, the construction of zero-carbon new build housing stock, the expansion of renewable energy cooperatives, or community ownership of water utilities.
Currently, cooperatives and mutuals cannot raise money by issuing transferable shares. Instead their capital comes from retained earnings or reserves built up over time, and various forms of withdrawable capital or debt.
As a result, cooperatives have less money to invest, to innovate and to grow their businesses, according to McMorrin. The bill would create a level playing-field for cooperatives and mutuals with their private competitors, she added.
However, during the debate, John Glen, economic secretary to the Treasury, said that he was concerned about the lack of scrutiny and protection for investors, since coops were not supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
He added that the government was already reviewing regulation on the issuance of non-transferable debt securities, and did not want to open up another before that was finished.
McMorrin said: “This was a missed opportunity for the government to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to a green recovery and taking bold measures to green our economy and tackle the climate crisis.”
The issues raised by the government were not insurmountable, and could have very easily have been ironed out at the committee stage of the bill, she said.
Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She tweets at @Cat_Early76.