Have you completed the Co-operative Census?

Early indicators from the Co-operative Census, launched by Co-operatives UK, show that co-ops make a true effort to take into account the suggestions of members and employees when developing new products and services.

Launched two months ago, the census aims to understand how member owned businesses are performing, and what support they would find useful in the future. Co-operatives UK is inviting co-ops, employee owned businesses, farmer controlled organisations, men’s clubs and allotment societies to take part.

It is estimated that there are 7,000 member owned organisations across the UK. The census has already generated responses from organisations across different sectors, with nearly a quarter of respondents coming from retail, and around 10% each from finance, energy and digital, media and communications. Other co-ops that have completed the census are from membership associations (8%); housing (8%), agriculture (5%), education (5%); and professional and legal services (5%).


The newest co-op responding to the census was registered just three months ago while the oldest one has a long history of 148 years. The initial results suggest that two thirds (66%) of co-ops draw on the ideas of members and employees in order to develop new products and services.

“The census aims to help us understand how member owned businesses are faring – what’s working, what the challenges are, where they would like to be, what they need to get there,” said Ed Mayo, general secretary at Co-operatives UK. “The results will help inform a new national co‑operative development strategy intended to help us prioritise where to focus our energies if we want to strengthen and grow the UK’s co‑operative sector.”

The results of the survey will be used in the creation of a National Co‑operative Development Strategy to help direct the sector’s approach to supporting and growing the UK’s co‑operative businesses over the coming years.