New report inspiring councils to develop businesses with their communities

A new report giving guidance to local authorities about how to grow the co-operative economy in the UK has been published by the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network (CCIN).

The report, ‘Co-operatives Unleashed: from the Grassroots’ was funded through CCIN’s Policy Lab programme and is aimed at local authorities, identifying how they can facilitate and enable growth in the co-operative sector.

Co-operative businesses are owned and controlled by their members, which can include employees, customers or local residents, giving them a say in how the organisation is run.

The CCIN is a non-political collaboration between local authorities aiming to develop co-operative policy and encourage innovation, increasing the number of co-operatives.

Councillor Sharon Taylor OBE, CCIN Chair and Leader of Stevenage Borough Council said: “Over the past few years there have been a number of national reports into how to strengthen and grow the co-operative movement in the UK. We have welcomed these and have read them carefully to see how we, as a group of local councils, can assist in the process. Sadly, with the national focus of the reports to date the role of local councils has been largely overlooked.

“Now is an important time for a new economic message, about putting more wealth in our communities. For us, a thriving local co-operative economy should sit alongside an effective co-operative council and so it became clear that we needed to learn from the best practice and provide guidance to councils wishing to do more.”

Plymouth City Council produced the report, which was written with input from other CCIN member councils, co-operative businesses and co-operative development bodies.

Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Housing and Co-operative Development, said: “We have set out plans in Plymouth to double the co-operative economy by 2025, in line with the co-operative movement’s national aims. We’ve created a strategic action plan, ‘Doing It Ourselves’ to help us achieve this goal, which identifies five key growth areas in Plymouth.  

“We’re proud to have used our expertise to lead on the creation of the national CCIN report – it shows exactly what councils can and should be doing to support member-owned businesses, which bring real community benefits.”

Councils have a key role to play in supporting co-operatives, especially when it comes to giving local communities ownership over local assets and services.

The report makes several recommendations for local authorities to follow, including:

  • Championing co-operative business models
  • Facilitating community wealth building initiatives
  • Supporting co-operative friendly finance
  • Seizing the opportunity to create new co-operatives when new businesses are initiated by councils
  • Advocating for co-operatives internally with an ambassador programme
  • Training council staff working in economic development so they can support co-operatives

Read the full report at: www.councils.coop/coops-unleashed