The government is currently undertaking a consultation – ostensibly aimed at cutting business ‘red tape’ – which could see the list of words which businesses are restricted from using abolished, or amended.
Any buinesses seeking to use anyof the words in their legal name has to get permission to do so from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the government must first consult with a list of organisations with a interest in the words for their sector (Co-operatives UK are one such organisation).
One option being considered by the government is to remove certain words for the list, whilst another is to remove the list altogerher.
Co-operatives UK are calling on all co-ops to respond to the consultation and have prepared a briefing on the issue which you can download. Denise Morrisoe, policy officer at Co-operatives UK says:
The word ‘co-operative’ is currently on the ‘sensitive words’ list. However, the consultation includes proposals to remove certain words from it. If enacted, this could mean that any business registering as a company would be able to call themselves a ‘co-operative’ without the need to justify they are a genuine co-operative.
It would therefore be easy for rogue or misguided enterprises to mislead the public by claiming to operate as a co-operative. These businesses would be trading off the value of the co-operative identity, and potentially undermining it.
- In 27 years of registering co-operatives, Co-operatives UK has not encountered the view that inclusion of the term ‘co-operative’ on the sensitive words list is a burden.
- Co-operatives adhere to internationally agreed values and principles.
- Co-operatives are perceived to be local (81%), share their profits (79%) and fair (75%).
- Co-operatives are a resilient form of business, growing by nearly 20% since 2008.
- Reducing protection for co-operatives would allow rogue or misguided enterprises to mislead the public by claiming to operate as a co-operative.
- Protection for the word ‘co-operative’ can be improved by developing suitable criteria for use of the word, and adding derivatives, such as ‘coop’, ‘co-op’ and ‘cooperative’.
The consultation closes on May 22nd.