During Co-operatives Fortnight (18 June to 2 July), the Co-operative Party’s Welsh Assembly members highlighted the growth of the co-operative movement in Wales and urged the Welsh government to continue its support.
Assembly members drew attention to the contribution that co-operatives make to the UK economy (currently valued at £34bn), and took stock of the progress the Welsh government is making towards fulfilling the recommendations of the 2014 Welsh Co-operatives Commission Report, which set out a range of steps to support the growth of co-operative enterprise across Wales.
According to Co-operatives UK’s Co-operative Economy report 2016, there are 464 co-operatives in Wales, turning over £0.9bn a year and employing 4,562 people. There are just under 850,000 co-operative memberships in the country.
In the week leading up to the Fortnight, Jeremy Miles AM, speaking during Business Questions, requested that the Welsh government make a statement updating AMs on developing co-operatives. “The government in the fourth Assembly welcomed the conclusions and recommendations of the Welsh Co-operative and Mutuals Commission, chaired by Andrew Davies,” he said. “Will the government bring forward a statement outlining what steps it will take in the fifth Assembly to take those recommendations forward?”
In her response, Jane Hutt AM, speaking on the government’s behalf, reiterated its commitment to the continued growth of the Welsh co-operative economy, noting that “co-operative ways of working and doing business are becoming the norm, not the exception”.
Mr Miles and other members of the Party’s Welsh Assembly Group tabled a ‘Statement of Opinion’ during the Fortnight, which found widespread support. The Statement welcomed the growth in the Welsh co-operative sector, but urged the Welsh government to continue pushing forward, to “continue to recognise the contribution of co-operatives to a stronger, fairer Wales, and to prioritise implementation of the Co-operative and Mutuals Commission recommendations”.