In Wales the government has been working with the Wales Co-operative Centre to enable more people to collectively own and manage their accommodation.
The Welsh government sees co-ops as playing a key role in providing 20,000 affordable homes during its term. Interest in the co-operative housing model has continued to increase since 2012 when the Wales Co-operative Centre began delivering its Co-operative Housing project, funded by Welsh Government and the Nationwide Foundation.
Over the past few years, four new co-operative housing schemes have been completed, with three others nearing completion and a further six at various stages of development. In total, more than 130 new homes have been built since the Co-operative Housing in Wales project’s inception in 2012, the majority affordable.
In 2016/17, the project worked with nine co-operative housing schemes at various stages of development and trained 129 people to become active and engaged co-operative housing members.
The Welsh Government has recently announced it would invest an additional £149,530 to support the project.
Michaela Adams, a member of Taf Fechan Housing Co-operative, says: “The Co-operative is an excellent idea as it makes you come together as a community. You gain and learn new skills and meet new people. We also get to resolve any issues as a group and all get an equal vote on how things should be done which is great. All in all, being part of a co-operative is a fantastic housing option.”
Luana Dee, a member of Loftus Village Association says: “It’s been excellent working together as a community to develop Loftus Village Association. We are the sort of community where people help each other out and I’m particularly enjoying developing our communal garden.”
David Palmer, manager of the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Co-operative Housing project, believes the co-op model increases inclusion in a number of ways.
“Co-ops ensure that people are included within a group or community, and have an equal voice in how that community is run. It also enables people who are excluded from the mainstream housing market to come together with others to share housing costs,” he said.
“This makes the housing more affordable for all and enables people to secure a home of their own. We’re also finding that the training and experience people get through being members of a housing co-operative are giving them transferable skills which are improving their prospects in the job market, increasing their financial capability and improving their digital skills.