How do UK worker co-operatives compare to the rest of the world

I seem to be doing a lot of internationally focused blogs at the moment, if anyone wants me to cover a domestic worker co-operative issue, or write one...

I seem to be doing a lot of internationally focused blogs at the moment, if anyone wants me to cover a domestic worker co-operative issue, or write one themselves, get in touch.

Ever year Co-operatives UK sends data on worker co-operatives to CECOP (our European Federation). This helps CECOP lobby the EU on behalf of the movement and collectively show our strength. For those interested, here’s a summary the information. 

Something to reflect on (if your that way inclined) are the terms social co-operative and artisan co-operative, which are terms we don’t use in the UK.  I have loosely defined them below and keep meaning to write a blog on them both. 

None of the figures include social co-operatives as we just don’t classify co-operatives in that way. For artisan co-operatives, I’ve looked for co-operatives of self-employed people that come together in a co-operative to produce stuff/deliver a service. These are usually referred to as consortia co-operatives in the UK but that term also includes consortia of very large buying groups like www.bako.co.uk , agricultural machinery rings etc, so its really isn’t comparable.

The 90 collected below are an attempt to record these types of co-operatives and are predominantly: taxi firms like www.dialacab.co.uk (sadly not a member, if anyone can make an introduction…), arts and crafts consortia like: www.woolclip.com and professionals like: www.theverypeople.co.uk, www.uhc.org.uk.



Numbers of organisations

As we do not have data on every co-operative in the UK, this will be an underestimate and should only be used as a general guide to the sector (these figures are always changing as we get new data).



Worker/
 social 1
coops
Artisans coops2
TOTAL
Number of enterprises 392 90 482
Number of enterprises being SME’s3 392 89 481
Number of workers (members and non members) 2140 4002 6142
Total number of members of all types e.g. volunteers, investors 634 4657 7291

1 Social co-operatives are multi-stakeholder (predominantly worker/volunteers) that delivers public services (mainly in Italy).
2 Artisan Co-operatives are consortia’s of self employed people who come together predominantly Arts, Crafts, like pottery etc.
3 Define SME as greater than 250 workers or turnover greater than 50 millions €

Size of Co-operative Economy
Worker co-ops in membership of Co-operatives UK = £129m
Worker co-ops in economy = £146m
Artisan/professional co-operatives in membership = £900,000
Artisan/professional co-operatives in economy = £40.9m 
(predominately down to a few very large taxi firms)
Whole co-operative economy = £33.5bn

Lives and Deaths
185 have been creating since 2005, 101 of them members or affiliated to Co-operatives UK. 
33 have closed down over this period (that we know of).

Gender balance of Directors

Male Directors =565
Female Directors = 429 

Industry Sectors 

CECOP uses an International Industrial Classification Systems, so the figures may not be the same as others  figures I might have published in previous posts. I’ve attached the Spreadsheet, in Google Doc form here. for the juicy details and sub categories.  Again there is a health warning with this data, as it is our interpretation of information we have available.

ISIC & NACE Codes NACE Description Total
A AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHING 13
C MANUFACTURING 13
E WATER SUPPLY; SEWERAGE, WASTE MANAGEMENT 6
G WHOLESALE AND RETAIL TRADE 62
H TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE 19
I ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD SERVICE ACTIVITIES 16
J INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION 26
M PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES 106
N ADMINISTRATIVE AND SUPPORT SERVICE ACTIVITIES 14
P EDUCATION 33
Q HUMAN HEALTH AND SOCIAL WORK ACTIVITIES 52
R ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION 79
S OTHER SERVICE ACTIVITIES 41

If you have not yet lost he will to live with too many figures, here some tid-bits from the last report from CECOP of how we compare with the rest of Europe:

Number of worker co-operatives in membership of a CECOP member

Country N° of Co-operatives
Bulgaria 268
Czech Republic 252
Denmark 110
Estonia 3
Finland 70
France 1893
Germany 97
Italy 18151
Malta 28
Poland 340
Portugal 51
Romania 526
Slovakia 90
Spain 25486
UK 170
Total 47535

Industry Sectors (where they have data)

NACE N° of Co-ops
A AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHING 388
B MINING AND QUARRYING 11
C MANUFACTURING 2452
D ELECTRICITY, GAS, STEAM AND SUPPLY 16
E WATER SUPPLY; SEWERAGE, WASTE MANAGEMENT 167
F CONSTRUCTION 1930
G WHOLESALE AND RETAIL TRADE 995
H TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE 1409
I ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD SERVICE ACTIVITIES 536
J INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION 872
K FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE ACTIVITIES 26
L REAL ESTATE ACTIVITIES 128
M PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL ACTIVITIES 1966
N ADMINISTRATIVE AND SUPPORT SERVICE ACTIVITIES 2323
O PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 18
P EDUCATION 1328
Q HUMAN HEALTH AND SOCIAL WORK ACTIVITIES 3196
R ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION 1340
S OTHER SERVICE ACTIVITIES 1011
T ACTIVITIES OF HOUSEHOLDS 25

I hope you enjoy, if you have any questions, comments please get in touch

In this article


Join the Conversation