Commission set to move housing co-ops forward

A commission to study the future of housing co-operatives has been launched.

The Commission on Co-operative and Mutual Housing, which contains a board of 16 commissioners, will listen to evidence from across the sector and help to develop a snapshot of the current climate as well as helping housing co-ops to form a future road map.


Members of the Commission include the Chair Adrian Coles, Director General, Building Societies Association; Nic Bliss, Chair, Confederation of Co-operative Housing; Pauline Green, Chief Executive, Co-operatives UK; Ben Reid, Chief Executive, Midcounties Co-op; and David Rodgers, Chief Executive, CDS Co-operatives.

The Commission’s role was revealed during a seminar at Congress. Dame Pauline told delegates: “I see this as a follow on from the Co-operative Commission in 2001. Housing co-ops are on the cusp now and there is a need to drive the housing sector forward. It is also fundamental to drive interest in housing to help raise the profile of the entire movement.”

A statement from the Commission said: “Interest in the third sector, of which co-operative and mutual housing organisations are part, has grown in recent years in relation to policy debates about social exclusion, cohesion, localised service delivery and active citizenship.

“Government and independent reviews of the regulation of the social housing sector generally, and greater involvement of residents and communities specifically, make little reference to the existing or future role of housing co-operatives: this is the backdrop to the Commission’s work.”

It added that the co-op housing sector now requires a similar systematic and critical appraisal and the Commission, which will run until September 2009 aims to:

• Develop an up-to-date picture of the co-op housing sector in the UK and its historic achievements, successes and lessons to be learnt for future development

• Undertake an analysis of the environment in which the sector operates by exploring the role of housing and related co-operatives within the wider mutual arena and in relation to changes in the third sector generally

• Undertake a series of case studies of existing housing co-operatives to illuminate current and future issues and potential ways/models to expand the sector over the next decade or so

• Assemble evidence from within and outside the sector via a series of regional ‘hearings’, symposia, via ‘roundtable’ debates, and through a range of media

• Organise and implement an integrated campaign to highlight the achievements of housing and related co-operatives and scope out potential roles for the sector within the new housing and third sector agendas.

The Commission will sit for 15 months, publishing a series of interim reports, findings, and articles, organising a range of events to disseminate findings widely and promote the sector extensively with policy-makers, other sectors, residents and communities. An interim report will be published this autumn and a final report in summer 2009.

Adrian Coles told the News: “The Commission is impartial and will receive evidence across the political spectrum and from a range of related sector of the economy and civil society. The Commission on Mutual Housing is to housing co-operatives what the ‘Monks Commission’ was to the wider Co-op sector and Movement in 2001; we aim to develop a long-term strategic framework for growth and management.”

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