Care co-operatives face struggle

Following the recent launch of the second wave of the Government’s Pathfinder mutuals, new research into one of the new Pathfinders reveals that local authority culture and practice...

The report from Co-operatives UK and Manchester Metropolitan University, Personalisation of social care and health — a co-operative solution, shows that although small, local providers can give a high quality, responsive service, they face barriers from local authorities.  

The main barrier identified in the report, which looks at the experience of one of the second wave Pathfinders, Sunshine Care in Rochdale, is that small, local providers of personal care experience problems in getting on a local authority’s ‘preferred providers list’ — the first port of call for personal budget holders looking for care providers — meaning that they are effectively invisible.

Jenny Fisher, Senior Lecturer in Social Care and Communities at Manchester Metropolitan University and one of the report’s authors, said: “These co-operatives exemplify a Big Society approach to care, involving local staff and service users directly in the running of the organisations.

“However, the commissioning process and the need to demonstrate a track record, being unable to register on the preferred provider list, and a low level of understanding amongst local authority staff of the value of co-operatives in providing a localised, community based service all contribute to a very difficult time for these relatively new care providers.”

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK commented: “This research demonstrates strong evidence for the effectiveness of co-operatives. It also shows a gap between policy and practice that needs addressing if the Government’s vision for co-operative and mutual provision of services is to be realised.”

• The report is available to download at:

In this article

Join the Conversation