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Co-operative Economy 2014

How Significant are Co-operatives in the UK?

< Previous (2013)

Co-operatives UK have released their latest annual economic report on the state of the UK's co-operative economy.

The co-operative economy is in good health [and] has proved itself to be dynamic, resilient and growing. Focused on member needs, co-operatives have the responsiveness, support and momentum to make them the most resilient form of enterprise in the UK. there are more member-owners of co-ops [...] than there are direct shareholders of businesses in the UK.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General

Co-operatives UK.

Business growth

With over 6,000 co-operatives and over 15,000,000 members, co-operative businesses in the UK together turnover more than £37bn a year. The sector has grown by more than 20% since the start of the recession in 2008; last year (2013) was the first post-financial-crisis year than national GDP growth was greater than the overall co-operative sector's growth, which was still positive despite problems at the Co-operative Group and the Co-operative Bank.

The Co-operative Childcare has grown to be the sixth largest UK provider of childcare, and 254 new co-operative schools were formed without government assistance last year, making 'co-operative' the third largest network of schools in the UK.

Community Empowerment

Built on the principles of mutual-support and shared-benefit, and the key idea of putting responsibility (via share-holding) into the hands of people who have a vested interest in the result of the endeavour – the workers, the customers, the local community – co-operatives empower people to participate in their local community, improving it for their own benefit and sharing in any profits generated.

  • By owning your local football club, or your local pub, you can really make it yours, by investing in what's important to you, having a say in it's management, and sharing in any benefits of it's success; like over 60 communities did in 2013, raising a total in excess of £15,000,000 to save local pubs, music venues, football clubs etc.
  • By owning or starting a local businesses, from retail to energy generation, from small corner-shops to big brands such as Lurpak (a co-op), you can ensure that the service is there for you and your community to use, whilst ensuring that it's run in a responsible way that the local community – your local community – benefit from.
  • Starting a co-operative-run school or charity, gives you the ability to band together with other like-minded people to implement any not-for-profit changes that you desire, on a local or nation scale.
  • Even if Profit is the Point, the co-operative model still offers a solid choice, as big co-operative corporations such as John Lewis Partnership PLC have proven.

Mutuals Yearbook

In a tough economic climate, the strength of the co-operative business model is the loyalty of those who want the business to succeed because they are the members and owners. Co-operatives are enterprises that give ownership to those who are most closely involved in the life of the business itself – whether customers, employees or suppliers. In turn, that allows for co-operatives to operate with a competitive edge that is distinctive. But it also spreads wealth and ownership at a time when the gaps between the haves and the have-nots is increasing.

2013 Mutual Yearbook


The latest report from Mutuo contains several case-studies – such as Portsmouth FC, rescued from a scandalous funding crisis by the (co-operative) Pompey Supporters Trust, and Accord Energy Solutions, a worker-owned co-operative, to pick a couple at random – and ###–ToEmDash specifically focuses on co-operative/mutual Friendly Societies, Mutual Insurers, Building Societies, Credit Unions, Health services/NHS Trusts, Education co-ops, and Housing Societies, reporting growth across the co-operative economy up to 970,000 employees and £115bn annual income.

If you are considering setting up a new Co-operative within the UK (or if you would like support in expanding your existing UK Co-operative) then use the enquiry form here:

Support for new and existing Co-operative organisations within the UK.

GO DIRECT to Examples of groups receiving free support via the Co-operative Enterprise Hub:

Advice & Training via the Co-operative Enterprise Hub.

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