The announcement was welcomed by Co-operative Futures, the Gloucester-based business development consultancy which helps people in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and the West Midlands form their own co-operative enterprises.
In a speech in London on what Mr Cameron dubbed Popular Capitalism, the prime minister said the the government wanted to encourage different business models, where employees had a greater stake in the success of their companies.
“It is a basic truth that if people have a stake in business, they will support its growth and share in its success,” he said.
Mr Cameron said the new bill will consolidate and simplify the current ‘outdated’ legislation governing co-operatives and mutuals – which he called a “vital branch of popular capitalism,” – into a single statute, which will be put before parliament before the next election.
“There are over 12 million co-op members in the UK. That’s more people than there are shareholders in the economy,” said the prime minister.
“But right now there are too many barriers in the way… so today I can announce they will all be brought together and simplified in a new Co-operatives Bill that will be put before parliament.”
Jo White executive director of Co-operative Futures said. “We are delighted to see the coalition government taking this step.
“Co-operatives are a tried and tested business model which operate across many sectors of the economy and this will be a much needed boost to them.
“In the UK co-operatives employ over 235,000 people and have a turnover of more than £33 billion a year, and over the last five years we have seen a significant rise in the number of people seeking advice from Co-operative Futures on how to set up a co-operative.”
Last year Co-operative Futures helped a record 17 co-operatives get off the ground in sectors like community energy, care of older people and those with disabilities, and community shops.
For more information about starting or growing a co-operative, visit www.futures.coop or call 0845 456 2506.