Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, on what lies ahead for 2014

My New Year wish? That we can work together across the co-operative sector to make 2014 a hopeful year of renewal.

My New Year wish? That we can work together across the co-operative sector to make 2014 a hopeful year of renewal.

While the co-operative sector is in good health, the reputation of our business model has faced unprecedented challenge and scrutiny over the last period. Based on early feedback from our members, Co-operatives UK’s forward plan for 2014 will aim to address this directly.

Our mission for 2014 is an urgent one: to champion the reputation of the co-operative business model.

There are five connected key steps for action by Co-operatives UK which, taken together and in concert with action by leading co-operatives and mutuals, can help reaffirm the good reputation of our business model.

These five steps are to:

1. Unite the co-operative sector. Our businesses are the best advocates for the co-operative difference and we are more powerful and effective on the public and media stage when we work together.

2. Create space to look ahead. Through networks and events, such as a participative and affordable Co-operative Congress, we can help our members, as an independent forum, to shape a new direction for the sector as a whole.

3. Celebrate our clear successes. Co-operatives Fortnight will run on a proud and confident theme of ‘Choose co-operative; local, loved, trusted’, creating a framework for joining up our communications.

4. Promote best practice where it matters. The co-operative sector led the corporate world when Co-operatives UK introduced our first code of governance in the 1990s. Now, we will look forward at best practice worldwide on co-operative governance and what the UK can learn.

5. Act as an effective voice to decision-makers across the political spectrum. 2014 will see the first new consolidation act for co-operatives for 50 years, the result of our own campaigning. The new legislation will be an opportunity to champion the co-operative model and our role as businesses and innovators.

The engagement and suggestions from our members on how we champion the co-operative business model has been most welcome and
Co-operatives UK is committed to keeping the movement connected and briefed about what is coming up.

It would be naïve to assume that the challenges of 2013 will not echo over the coming year. The fundamentals of recovery need to be the fundamentals of our shared, co-operative values – that we are honest and responsible in delivering the things that matter most to our members.

In an international context, we have an ambitious framework in the form of the International Co-operative Alliance Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, developed under the leadership of its President, Dame Pauline Green.

Our international links and connections grow in importance over time and there is co-operative innovation from overseas that will be of real value in our own renewal as a movement in the UK.

The co-operative sector is at its best when it is co-operative. We need the confidence and character to make this the hallmark of the coming year.

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