Co-operatives UK reports strong surplus for 2017

'At a time of immense stress it was important to stand firm and demonstrate that the movement is more than one co-op'

Co-operatives UK ended 2017 with a pre-tax surplus of a £480,232 – which for the first time includes equity investment funding of £477,805 from Power to Change under the Booster Project.

Its surplus before this funding, which Co-operatives UK has invested in various societies, was £2,427. The organisation’s annual report said its total income for the year was £2,957,264, 2017, in line with the previous year’s income of £2,919,171.

Secretary general Ed Mayo said: “The accounts for Co-operatives UK … show two bottom lines on our balance sheet. This first is our normal trading, on which we were pleased to make £2,427. The second, on auditor advice, is the full and formal bottom line, which includes the addition of equity investment from Power to Change.”

Founded in 1870, the umbrella organisation works to promote, develop and unite the UK’s co-operative sector.

New targets were set for the period 2017-2020 and in July 2017 Co-operatives UK launched Do it Ourselves, a national co-operative development strategy.

Targets for 2020 include raising one pound in earned income for every pound paid in member subscriptions, growing its membership by 20% and contributing to the formation of around 270 new co-operatives a year.

As a membership organisation, Co-operatives UK is reliant on subscriptions but is also looking to raise funds from charitable foundations or statutory bodies in support of co-operative development. The organisation has also started redeveloping its premises, Holyoake House, to safeguard its future.

And through its HR service launched in 2015, Co-operatives UK is now saving members £300,000 annually through joint purchasing.

Overall, Co-operatives UK has delivered 144 pieces of bespoke advice via the Contact Package, helped 78 new co-ops set up, and received 97% satisfaction for governance and consultancy work.

Through the Hive, a programme backed by the Co-operative Bank, Co-operatives UK supported 355 groups and co-ops with expert advice worth more than £100,000 in its second year – and helped communities raise more than £2m through community shares to save local assets and services.

In 2017 the projects team delivered £698,000 worth of funding for programmes across the UK based around three key themes: place-based economic development; co-operative development; and community shares.

The year also marked Co-operatives UK’s best membership retention figures (89%) in seven years, after updating its membership offer in 2016, with 126 new members making a total of 773.

The year saw around 1,000 delegates attend its events, which have a 98.5% satisfaction rate. During Co-operatives Fortnight the sector shared 1,600 stories.

Chair Nick Matthews wrote in the report: “As we developed that three-year strategy, from 2015 to 2017, we felt two things. Firstly, that at a time of immense stress it was important to stand firm and demonstrate that the movement is more than one co-op. That yes, we recognise the governance issues with some co-ops, but look at the whole sector and the great examples of vibrant and exciting co-operative enterprise.

“The second thing we as a board did was to maintain all the ambitious targets we had set for the movement. We had taken a huge hit, but for the good of the sector and our members we took the bold decision to carry on regardless. So, thanks to the staff at Holyoake House alongside the constant and solid support of you, our members, for three years we have done more with less.”

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