EOA Insights: Our reflections from the Labour Party conference
The EOA attended the Labour Party conference on behalf of our members and the EO sector. Our aim has been to understand the priorities of the Party and how a prospective Labour government’s policy may impact the sector, and to share the success of the EO model and its relevance in overcoming structural challenges in the UK economy and capitalising on opportunities.
We were excited by the energy of discussion around progressive business models including employee ownership. Below are our key reflections on the Labour party, including how employee ownership can fill a core space in the party’s ambition for an economic renewal.
In the future, we look forward to seeing this energy materialise into firmer and more tangible commitments and proposals.
The Labour Party has committed itself to fighting the next election around the economy, and its economic vision was a strong focus of the conference. The Shadow Chancellor’s speech was at the centre of this, where she laid out her focus on economic security and growth.
Through the lens of security, Reeves positioned instability as the central challenge in the economy today, constraining household finances and private investment in the UK. When laying out her vision of addressing this to support the UK’s livelihoods and business environment, the shadow chancellor particularly focused on anchoring supply chains in the UK economy and developing essential services and infrastructure.
Being key for investment, security was heavily linked to a second focus at the conference: growth. It was announced at the conference that a National Wealth Fund would be created by a prospective Labour government, with the aim to leverage triple the private investment into the UK economy for every £1 spent. In this vision, economic growth is also supported by strong commitments to investing in skills, and transport and other key infrastructure.
“A new deal for working people”
Another key theme throughout the conference was the idea echoed through ideas such as inclusive economies, economic justice, etc. This was again, in part, articulated in the shadow chancellor’s speech, where she committed to the “new deal for working people.” This covered a number of priorities including banning zero hours contracts, strengthening sick pay, basic rights from day one, and a new “genuine living wage” linked to the cost of living.
The opportunity for EO
In the run up to the general election, the Labour Party will no doubt be working to develop these announcements, commitments and policy areas into a more tangible set of proposals. A strong focus will be needed on how to tackle key structural economic challenges to making their vision a reality.
Solving the UK’s productivity puzzle will be vital for achieving these ambitions, particularly when looking beyond traditional high-growth sectors to what the Labour Party have termed “the everyday economy,” which accounts for a massive share of GDP and employs huge segments of the labour force.
Next week the EOA will be demonstrating how supporting employee ownership as a segment of the economy is one way of doing this.
The groundbreaking research emerging from the Knowledge Programme will show that employee ownership unlocks greater productivity in a business. A clear link also emerges with Labour’s other priorities in these findings; we will show that Employee owned businesses are more resilient, offering the economic security that Labour views as vital in renewing the UK economy.
Employee owned businesses are a pathway to better jobs, with higher basic wages, broader sharing of value added, and a stronger focus on employee satisfaction and health & wellbeing.
It is our hope that the Labour party will learn from the evidence around employee ownership, and other progressive business models, to fully unlock their potential to deliver a stronger, fairer, more resilient economy. The EOA looks forward to engaging further with the Labour party around this in the future.