Co-operatives UK, the trade association for co-operative businesses, has launched a campaign to protect the word 'co-operative', which is under threat in a new government consultation on business names.
The word 'co-operative' is currently on the 'sensitive words' list for new business, meaning that a new businesses registering cannot call themselves a co-operative unless they meet internationally agreed co-operative values and principles.
However, the Company and Business Names Consultation being run by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as part of its 'red tape challenge', 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.
Co-operatives UK is calling on co-operative businesses and their members and supporters to help protect the word 'co-operative' by responding to BIS's consultation.
"In 27 years of registering co-operatives, Co-operatives UK has never encountered the view that having the term 'co-operative' on the sensitive words list is administrative burden. But we have challenged a number of rogue firms who want to pass themselves off as co-operatives.
"Because of the hard work of successful co-operatives across the UK, the public associate co-operatives with being trustworthy, business-like and fair – and we maintain this reputation because those businesses calling themselves co-operatives agree to some core values and principles. We are extremely concerned that without this protection, rogue businesses may trade off, and potentially ultimately, tarnish, this reputation.
"We are urging people to help protect the good name of co-operatives."
More information about Co-operatives UK is available at HERE.