Co-operatives UK looks back on its impact in 2019

'The co-operative values and principles bind our innovative sector together'

As it rounded off 2019, UK sector body Co-operatives UK has looked back on its achievements over the year.

Highlights of its Impact Report 2019 include securing, through ‘collective lobbying … significant improvements to the mutials register and the scrapping of high and disproportionate annual fees, saving an estimated £1m annually”.

The organisation also worked with MSPs in Scotland to push housing policy up the Scottish government’s policy agenda, and contributed evidence which saw commitments to support co-ops in the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy.

It held 12 UnFound tech hubs across the UK to promote platform co-op start-ups, with Professor Trebor Scholz, director of the Platform Co-operative Consortium, saying: “The work of Co-operatives UK at a national level to promote platform co-ops in practice is the most advanced of any across the world.”

The organisation contributed more than £500,000 in grants, saw 87 new co-ops registered, delivered training to hundreds of member co-ops and gave direct professional advice to 253 co-ops. The Hive, its support programme funded by the Co-op Bank, supported over 150 organisations in 2019 and more than 4,000 resources were downloaded from thehive.coop

It is also supporting Student Co-op Homes in its ongoing share offer.
It continues to champion local ownership and community wealth building, investing match funding of £693,000 in community shares offers and issuing 23 Community Shares Standard Marks. 

Through its Empowering Places programme it helped establish 40 new community businesses, from a community-led regeneration business in Plymouth to a football club in Leicester. Co-operatives UK is now the lead programme partner in this programme for the next three years.

It recently revised the Co-operative Corporate Governance Code and published guidance on co-operative key performance indicators.

The apex body has expanded its network to include 804 direct members, with another 3,500 co-ops representing through federal membership.  

“The co-operative values and principles bind our innovative sector together and the principle of co-operation among co-operatives flows through our extensive range of member events,” it said.

There 50 of these events, from study visits to national conference, which brought together more than 1,400 co-op members, supporters and employees to network and share knowledge.

It expanded Co-op Connections, its local learning and networking programme, to 12 events in seven cities across the UK – helping more than 200 delegates come together and learn from one another. Following member feedback it launched a series of webinars with 126 colleagues and members to discuss subjects such as sociocracy and managing conflict.

Working with the Co-op College and the Co-op Press, it presented the co-op model and principles to 80 business management students – an exercise it will repeat this year.

And, with its farmer members, it lobbied for an extra piece of Brexit legislation, ensuring that farmers’ ability to co-operate will continue unchanged after we leave the EU.

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