More worker and community owned businesses
Our £12 million social finance fund comes on line later this year. It will fund the creation of co-ops and worker owned businesses by providing patient capital.
Too often a local firm is sold when the owner wants to retire. It gets bought by big business, and after a few years, they take the customers, the intellectual property, and then close their North East operations. We’re making the money available for worker buy-outs, along with legal and financial advice.
We’ve funded Educo – a cooperative teachers’ supply agency set up by members of the NEU, NASUWT, and Unison. Many supply teachers and teaching assistants are zero-hours workers, who get no pension, no professional development (CPD) and the agencies take a huge slice of their earnings. Educo takes that top-sliced profit and pays the teachers’ pensions and CPD.
I know it sounds like we’ve got funds coming out of our ears, but they work. Global finance has extracted wealth from regions like ours and laundered it through tax havens. It’s time we used these tools for the good of working people.
We’re also using the power of public procurement to help local firms win public sector work. At the North of Tyne the vast majority of our spend goes to local firms. I’ll expand this and work with the whole public sector to support local supply chains.