By Marcus Leach

Legislation to consolidate more than a dozen outdated pieces of legislation governing co-operatives and mutuals into a single statute will be put before parliament before the next election, the Prime Minister announced today (Thursday).

The Co-operatives Bill will cut red tape and help to build a fairer economy, ensuring that even more co-operative members can share in the benefits of enterprise.

“We know that breaking monopolies, encouraging choice, opening up new forms of enterprise is not just right for business but the best way of improving public services too," David Cameron said.

“There are over 12 million co-op members in the UK. That’s more people than there are shareholders in the economy.

“But right now there are too many barriers in the way… so today I can announce they will all be brought together and simplified in a new Co-Operatives Bill that will be put before parliament.”

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, welcomed the announcement.

“The new act is intended to make it as easy and natural to form a co-operative as any other form of business. We are delighted to see the Coalition taking action to put co-operative businesses on an equal footing and create a diverse economy," he said.

“Co-operatives, as well as being widely recognised for their ethical business practices, are a vital part of the British economy, employing more than 235,000 people, turning over more than £33 billion each year and generating a significant amount of wealth for the country.”

Government is providing new rights for public sector workers to create mutuals and own a stake in their success.

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