The mutual and co-operative sector is calling on the next government to back business with purpose beyond profit.

Supporting the mutual value

The mutual and co-operative sector is calling on the next government to back business with purpose beyond profit.


Mutual and co-operative businesses make a significant contribution to the UK economy, with combined annual revenues of £87.9 billion, equating to 3.5% of UK GDP. 

By offering a competitive alternative to shareholder-owned businesses, they are essential for the UK to build an inclusive, growing and diverse economy. They also provide greater consumer choice while delivering ‘mutual value’ to their members and wider society. 

However, their different legal and regulatory frameworks prevent mutuals from competing on a level playing field with their competitors. 

The mutual and co-operative sector is therefore calling on the next Government to create a meaningful covenant between mutuals and co-operatives, Government and society, based on the purpose-driven business model that delivers tangible benefits to our communities and wider society.

In a joint Prospectus created by the mutuals and co-operatives trade associations, there is no ambiguity in the action needed – the next Government must:

  • Create an environment that places mutuals and co-operatives at the heart of economic strategy, supporting the growth of the mutual sector

  • Deliver a legislative and regulatory framework that enables mutuals and co-operatives to meet the needs of the communities they serve and compete fairly with other businesses 

  • Create and preserve capital to support new and growing mutuals and co-operatives

A series of parliamentary events will be held across the UK in the new year to engage, face-to-face, with politicians from all parties. The aim is to build understanding of the value mutual organisations bring to the economy, and to garner support for the actions required to maintain that mutual value.


Press contacts:
Tanya Jackson, tanya.jackson@bsa.org.uk Tel: 07881 501098
Katie Wise, katie.wise@bsa.org.uk Tel: 020 7520 5904

Notes to Editors:

  • The Purpose of Mutual and Co-operative Businesses in Society Prospectus can be found here 

  • Policy roundtables will be held in Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester, in January and February 2024 to convene influential and supportive politicians and influencers to agree what mutual have to offer and how to ensure this potential is harnessed by the next government.

  • The mutuals and co-operative trade associations are: Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL); Association of Financial Mutuals (AFM); Building Societies Assocation (BSA); Co-operatives UK (Co-op UK) and the National Liaison Group (NLG).

    • ABCUL is the leading trade association for the credit union sector across Great Britain serving over 151 individual credit unions of all shapes and asset sizes.  ABCUL members account for more than 61% of the total volume of credit unions in Great Britain with over £1bn of total assets in membership.

    • The Association of Financial Mutuals is the trade body that represents mutual and not-for-profit insurers, friendly societies and other financial mutuals across the UK. The AFM is committed to protecting and progressing the principles of mutuality and promoting a better understanding of mutuals, encouraging mutual support and mutual approaches to business and public policy.

    • The Building Societies Association represents all 42 building societies, as well as 7 of the larger credit unions. Building societies serve around 26 million consumers across the UK and have total assets of over £500 billion. Together with their subsidiaries, they have helped over 3.6 million families and individuals to buy a home with mortgages totalling over £370 billion, representing 23% of total mortgage balances outstanding in the UK. They are also helping over 23 million people build their financial resilience, holding over £362 billion of retail savings, accounting for 19% of all cash savings in the UK.  Within this, societies account for 41% of all cash ISA balances. With all of their headquarters outside London, building societies employ around 51,500 full and part-time staff.  In addition to digital services, they operate through approximately 1,300 branches, holding a rising share of financial services branches in local communities.

    • Co-operatives UK is the voice for the UK’s thousands of independent co ops. It supports co ops to start up and thrive and offers access expert advice, events and training.

    • The National Liaison Group is a collaboration of the UK Credit Union Trade Bodies and Representatives who come together to engage with government, regulators and other stakeholders to support change and create an environment that facilitates ongoing growth and resilience of the credit union sector.