Growing the size of our employee-owned businesses in Wales is good for the local economy and vibrant communities and good for long-term sustainability of locally owned businesses which recycle the proceeds of growth locally. So it is great to see the strides which have been taken already, and to see the commitment of Welsh Government to work with us – as Welsh Labour and Co-operative Party members and MSs – to do even more.
Here is a link to an article I wrote on this last year https://huwirrancadaviesblog.wordpress.com/2021/11/10/a-welsh-marcora-law
Transcript from Plenary
Huw Irranca-Davies MS
Diolch, Dirprwy Lywydd Minister, in welcoming the statement today and its very clear focus on social value and social partnership in the economy, can I ask whether Government Ministers will continue to work with those of us—and I draw the attention of the Chamber to my membership of the Co-operative Party and the chairing of the Senedd Co-operative group—those Members who want to see Welsh Government build on its already impressive work on growing the employee-ownership sector of the economy?
We thank the Deputy Minister for engaging with us on the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill, and we do ask how this landmark legislation could more clearly reference employee ownership, but we also ask the Minster whether he will continue to work with us on further ways in which we can grow employee ownership in Wales with non-legislative measures, of course, but also the prospect of ground-breaking legislation here in Wales if a backbencher, perhaps one of the many Co-operative Party backbenchers here in this Chamber, could bring forward a strong and serious proposal during this Senedd term. Would he agree to work with us on that?
Vaughan Gething MS
I should perhaps note in response that I am also a member of the Co-operative Party.
However, in answering the points by the Member, I think it’s fair to say this: employee ownership enjoys an important status in the Welsh Government, with a clear programme for government commitment linking our progress to its growth. We believe that the growth of employee-owned businesses will contribute to a stronger, fairer Welsh economy, because they have sustainable development built into their DNA.
Despite the rapid growth in the number of employee-owned businesses in recent years, I recognise the ongoing need to celebrate the role that they play. The social partnership and public procurement Bill will contribute to well-being by improving public services through social partnership working, socially responsible public procurement and promoting fair work.
We’ll now explore ways in which the guidance around the Bill might usefully reference employee-owned businesses. Whilst the social partnership and public procurement Bill is not the right vehicle to legislate on employee ownership, I will, of course, work positively with a strong future MS legislative proposal regarding employee ownership. Whilst I can’t guarantee that legislation would follow, our commitment to the policy agenda means that we would certainly work with such a proposal. As with our foundational economy approach, and many other ambitious agendas in our programme for government, we believe that progress will be made without legislation, and that is why I do not see a proposal as necessary for action.
I’m grateful for the discussions that I and the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership have had with Huw Irranca-Davies to date. We’ll now take the opportunity to engage upon how the statutory and non-statutory guidance on procurement and fair work may help to promote the principles of employee ownership within the framework provided by the Bill and in our wider policy.