Edgar Parnell, former chief executive of the Plunkett Foundation, now a Foundation Fellow, writes in the Co-operative News about markets crying out for co-operative interventions to address critical problems all over the world. In Britain, for example, he lists:
- the provision of compassionate elder care,
- affordable childcare,
- low-cost pension provision,
- building societies that genuinely exist to help members to save and own their homes,
- housing services run for the benefit of tenants,
- transport services run for the benefit of passengers,
- honest motor servicing and repairs,
- legal services run for the benefit of clients
- and energy suppliers that negotiate strongly on behalf of their members.
As he says, the Plunkett Foundation has demonstrated that people can intervene in the market to ensure the survival of shops and pubs.
Credit unions have shown the real value of helping people to escape the stranglehold of debt caused by irresponsible lending; but they could also provide the basic banking services most ordinary people need.
L8 Superstore was recently named as BBC Food and Farming Awards Food Retailer of the Year; locally they have won recognition for the good work they are doing behind the scenes, encouraging people to eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
Edgar Parnell ends by addressing the co-operative retail food market, urging that interventions be made in the best interest of its members, instead of acting as an agent of a food industry obsessed by growth and therefore encouraging customers to eat more food than they need, of a type likely to shorten their lives or leave them with diet-related illnesses.