The December edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at the issue of engagement, and the co-operative way of making connections. Plus coverage of the 2018 Practitioners Forum, new Real Living Wage rates and member-nominated director (MND) elections at the Co-op Group.

The December edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at the issue of engagement, and the co-operative way of making connections. Plus coverage of the 2018 Practitioners Forum, new Real Living Wage rates and member-nominated director (MND) elections at the Co-op Group.


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<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong><br />


A co-operative<br />

way to make<br />

connections<br />

Plus ... the <strong>2018</strong><br />

Practitioners Forum ...<br />

New real living wage<br />

rates ... MND elections<br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />


news<br />

Co-op engagement: Spreading<br />

the word, bridging divides<br />




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

(00) 44 161 214 0870<br />

www.thenews.coop<br />

editorial@thenews.coop<br />


Rebecca Harvey<br />

rebecca@thenews.coop<br />


Anca Voinea | anca@thenews.coop<br />


Miles Hadfield | miles@thenews.coop<br />


Jen Banks | jen@thenews.coop<br />

DESIGN:<br />

Keir Mucklestone-Barnett<br />


Elaine Dean (chair), David Paterson<br />

(vice-chair), Sofygil Crew, Gavin<br />

Ewing, Tim Hartley, Beverley<br />

Perkins and Barbara Rainford.<br />

Secretary: Richard Bickle<br />

Established in 1871, Co-operative<br />

News is published by Co-operative<br />

Press Ltd, a registered society under<br />

the Co-operative and Community<br />

Benefit Society Act 2014. It is printed<br />

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Road, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE.<br />

Membership of Co-operative Press is<br />

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The Co-operative News mission statement<br />

is to connect, champion and challenge<br />

the global co-operative movement,<br />

through fair and objective journalism<br />

and open and honest comment and<br />

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@coopnews<br />

cooperativenews<br />

Widening economic equality and years of austerity have left a<br />

divided and disillusioned society. The co-operative movement has<br />

responded by offering a positive way forward, bolstered by falling<br />

confidence in the old ways of doing things – from top-down,<br />

centralised politics to conventional, corporate business models.<br />

But how does the movement reach out to convince people of the<br />

benefits of its new approach? At last week’s Practitioners Forum in<br />

Manchester (p25-27), Co-operatives UK launched the theme for next<br />

year’s Co-operatives Fortnight (p9). This calls on co-ops to share films<br />

of themselves performing acts of co-operation on social media to<br />

help build a society based on the movement’s ethos.<br />

But the public may be wary after years of top-down public<br />

services reform have only brought disruption, cuts and job<br />

losses. It’s important to keep them on board when moving to a<br />

mutual approach to ensure new models are truly democratic<br />

and that this time, change is for the better. This month, we take a<br />

look at how UK housing mutuals, and the growing movement of<br />

co-operative councils, are working to do just that, by building<br />

democratic engagement into their development process (p34-39).<br />

In the US, there’s an even more direct approach being taken, with a<br />

scheme by Cleveland’s Evergreen Co-operatives to buy up businesses<br />

and convert them to worker-owned firms (p32-33).<br />

For a young co-op, success can bring challenges: we speak to a rising<br />

star of the worker co-op movement, Outlandish, about how it keeps<br />

its co-op engaged (p30-31).<br />

For more established players, there are other concerns – witness the<br />

wage dispute at Canada’s Saskatoon Co-op (p40).<br />

Elsewhere, we take a look at the Californian housing co-op model<br />

(p42-43), the campaign for the Living Wage (p44-45), and the work of<br />

the Co-op Group’s member-nominated directors (p46-47).<br />


Co-operative News is printed using vegetable oil-based<br />

inks on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer<br />

waste) with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC<br />

certified sources. It is made in a totally chlorine free process.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 3



Lord Victor Adebowale spoke at the<br />

Practitioners Forum (p25-29); Hazel Blears<br />

tells us why you should think about applying<br />

to be an MND (p46-47); Merthyr Valley<br />

Homes are engaging with tenants in new<br />

ways (p34-39); and Kayleigh Walsh from<br />

Outlandish talks about the challenges<br />

of engagement facinga young worker<br />

co-operative (p30-31).<br />

COVER: The <strong>2018</strong> Practitioners<br />

Forum took place on 22 November,<br />

covering communications; finance;<br />

governance; HR and membership<br />

(Image: Co-operatives UK)<br />

Read more: p25-29<br />

22-23 MEET... KATIE COSGRAVE<br />

Youth engagement officer at the Reclaim<br />

Project, a youth leadership and social<br />

change organisation<br />


Updates from the annual professional<br />

development event organised by<br />

Co-operatives UK<br />





We speak to Kayleigh Walsh, who<br />

says delivering service should be the<br />

key focus, rather than growth<br />


In Cleveland, Ohio, Evergreen<br />

Co-operatives is stepping in when<br />

business owners reach retirement,<br />

buying their firms and switching them<br />

to employee ownership. Could other<br />

cities and countries follow suit?<br />




From housing mutuals to co-op<br />

councils, mutual alternatives are<br />

being increasingly explored. So how<br />

can public involvement in this<br />

be managed – and how can they be<br />

convinced to come on board in the<br />

first place?<br />


ln a co-operative, engagement with<br />

colleagues doesn’t always run smoothly.<br />

We take a look at Canada’s Saskatoon<br />

Co-op, which is locked in a pay dispute<br />

with its staff<br />

42-43 HOUSING<br />

David Thompson on a low-cost<br />

ownership oasis in a desert of apartment<br />

unaffordability<br />

44-45 REAL LIVING WAGE<br />

New rates were announced last month.<br />

What impact can it have, and what are<br />

co-ops doing about it?<br />

46-47 MND SELECTION<br />

Current member-nominated director at<br />

the Co-op Group, Hazel Blears on why you<br />

should think about applying<br />


5-14 UK updates<br />

15-21 Global updates<br />

24 Letters<br />

48 Books<br />

50 Events<br />

4 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

Central England Co-operative appoints Debbie Robinson as new chief executive<br />

p Debbie Robinson will join the society next spring, from Spar<br />

Debbie Robinson has been appointed<br />

CEO of Central England Co-operative,<br />

following the announcement that Martyn<br />

Cheatle will be retiring in May.<br />

Ms Robinson, who has previous<br />

experience at the Co-op Group, will join<br />

the society in the spring from Spar, where<br />

she has been UK managing director<br />

since 2011.<br />

She has held directorships for food<br />

retailers specialising in store innovation,<br />

brand strategy and global development<br />

and has over 30 years of experience in<br />

retail with Marks & Spencer, WH Smith<br />

and others.<br />

In her new role she will be responsible<br />

for developing the strategic and<br />

commercial direction of Central England,<br />

which has 400 trading outlets across<br />

16 counties.<br />

“I am delighted to be joining a<br />

progressive and truly co-operative society,”<br />

she said. “I look forward to building on<br />

the fantastic work Martyn has done and<br />

working with the team to ensure Central<br />

England Co-operative fulfils its ambitions<br />

and potential, making a real difference<br />

for our members and the communities<br />

we serve.”<br />

She added that her vision for the future<br />

of the society is to “grow sustainably and<br />

make the most of the society’s key USP;<br />

our co-operative principles”.<br />

Elaine Dean, society president, said<br />

Central England was “delighted” to<br />

welcome Ms Robinson at a time of growth<br />

and development for the society.<br />

“Debbie is no stranger to co-operative<br />

ethics and values, having previous<br />

experience at a senior level within the cooperative<br />

movement,” she said.<br />

“She has a sound track record of<br />

success and is highly respected in the<br />

retail sector.”<br />

Ms Dean added: “This is the first time<br />

in the society’s history that we have had<br />

a female chief executive and the board<br />

is confident in her ability to take us<br />

forward as a dynamic and independent<br />

co-operative society.<br />

“We look forward to working with<br />

Debbie as we build on our strong<br />

foundations and plan for the future.”<br />

Mr Cheatle said: “I am incredibly proud<br />

of the society and our colleagues, all of<br />

whom have contributed to the continued<br />

success Central England Co-operative<br />

has worked so hard to achieve in the time<br />

I have been chief executive.<br />

“I wish Debbie all the very best for her<br />

future with the best independent retail<br />

co-operative in the UK.”<br />

Ms Robinson sits on the boards of<br />

the Association of Convenience Stores<br />

and the British Retail Consortium, and<br />

outside of work has many hobbies and<br />

interests in the art and music world.<br />

She is a keen marathon runner and<br />

has completed numerous charity cycle<br />

rides – including those organised by the<br />

convenience and wholesale retail sector<br />

for the Mines Advisory Group.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 5


Co-op Group’s new depot to create 1,200 jobs and grow business in the south<br />

The Co-op Group has agreed terms for a<br />

new £45m distribution depot to support<br />

its growth across London, the South and<br />

South East.<br />

The new 661,000 sq ft depot, to be built<br />

near the A1 at Bedfordshire’s Symmetry<br />

Park, Biggleswade – is expected to open<br />

in early 2022, creating up to 1,200 jobs.<br />

Symmetry Park, which extends to<br />

around 50 acres, has been granted<br />

detailed planning consent for up to<br />

1 million sq ft of logistics space. The Group<br />

has secured a 20-year lease on the site,<br />

and it is anticipated that construction will<br />

begin towards the end of 2019.<br />

The Group is also working to reduce<br />

its environmental impacts, so the depot<br />

will have low-energy lighting and<br />

refrigeration, rainwater harvesting and<br />

will work towards a BREEAM excellent<br />

rating – an independent assessment of<br />

a building’s environmental, social and<br />

economic sustainability.<br />

In August, the Group opened its £6m<br />

Dalcross distribution centre at Inverness<br />

Airport Business Park, which is now<br />

p The Group’s new Dalcross centre at Inverness<br />

servicing the retailer’s network of stores in<br />

the region, and will facilitate future store<br />

expansion in the region.<br />

Jo Whitfield, the Group’s retail chief<br />

executive, said: “The new site will extend<br />

capacity across our logistics network.<br />

“This will help stores to better serve<br />

communities and support our ambitious<br />

growth plans across London, the south<br />

and south east. This is an exciting<br />

development – we believe a strong<br />

Co-op can create stronger communities.<br />

The investment is indicative of both the<br />

performance of the Co-op and the delivery<br />

of our food strategy.”<br />

Andy Perry, the Group’s supply chain<br />

and logistics director, added: “The site will<br />

deliver greater agility, scale and efficiency.<br />

It will reduce road miles, overall supply<br />

chain costs and supports our stores in<br />

the south by having more of our products<br />

closer to our members and customers.”<br />

Everybody needs<br />

good neighbours ...<br />

and here’s the proof<br />

A Sheffield man has been named national<br />

Neighbour of the Year by Co-op Insurance<br />

and Neighbourhood Watch.<br />

Paul Zeun, 53, was nominated by his<br />

neighbour, 38 year-old Abby Wilson, for<br />

his consistent caring and kind behaviour<br />

over the past decade. Paul and Abby<br />

became friends 10 years ago when he<br />

came to her rescue after she locked<br />

herself out of her flat.<br />

Since then, Paul has helped Abby<br />

with lifts to hospital, cat sitting and<br />

decorating. He’s shared his DIY skills<br />

with other neighbours and brings their<br />

local community together at Christmas<br />

parties and barbecues. As a result of the<br />

gatherings, the neighbours now celebrate<br />

their birthdays together.<br />

Paul has also cared for terminally ill<br />

neighbours and looks after others by<br />

doing their shopping for them. He plants<br />

flowers and shares vegetables from his<br />

allotment with his neighbours, as well as<br />

the food he makes with his own-grown<br />

produce, such as jams and pickles.<br />

For the awards, Co-op Insurance and<br />

Neighbourhood Watch asked the public<br />

for nominations – and Co-op members<br />

were asked to come up with criteria for<br />

the awards. Their suggestions include<br />

looking out for each other, offering<br />

practical help and being respectful<br />

of everyone in the neighbourhood.<br />

Paul said: “I’m overwhelmed. I enjoy<br />

helping people and getting everyone<br />

chatting. If we all did this, the world<br />

would be a much happier place.”<br />

£50k for slavery fight<br />

The Co-op Group is donating £50,000 to<br />

the modern slavery campaign from sales of<br />

selected own-brand Christmas sandwiches.<br />

The donation, raised from sales in<br />

November and December, goes to Stop The<br />

Traffik, a campaign group which shares<br />

advice and intelligence to stop modern<br />

slavery trafficking.<br />

Stop the Traffik’s initiatives include an<br />

app which allows anyone who has seen or<br />

heard a situation they believe to be linked to<br />

human trafficking or modern slavery to share<br />

their story, safely and securely.<br />

“Every story, no matter how small, whether<br />

current or historic, is important and relevant.<br />

What’s more, it may be the missing piece of a<br />

bigger picture,” says Stop the Traffik.<br />

6 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

Sam Walker wins equal<br />

pay claim against Group<br />

at industrial tribunal<br />

The former Co-op Group HR director Sam<br />

Walker has won her industrial tribunal<br />

case against the society, on equal pay and<br />

unfair dismissal.<br />

She took the Group to the tribunal<br />

claiming she had been dismissed after<br />

raising issues about her own pay and<br />

warning leading figures in the company<br />

of a pay gap between men and women<br />

performing the same roles.<br />

The tribunal did not agree with Ms<br />

Walker’s claim that her sacking was a<br />

result of discrimination, but ruled that<br />

the Group had “directly discriminated<br />

against the claimant on the grounds of<br />

sex”, because it graded her work as only<br />

“partially achieved” without giving her an<br />

adequate year-end appraisal.<br />

Ms Walker said: “This is a major victory<br />

for women. My case proves that pay<br />

discrimination can happen to anyone.<br />

I was in a senior position doing a job of<br />

equal value to my male senior colleagues,<br />

but was paid significantly less. This is<br />

happening all over this country.”<br />

She said she would now join forces on<br />

a new initiative with Carrie Gracie – the<br />

BBC journalist who resigned in protest<br />

over the gender pay gap – gender equality<br />

campaign group the Fawcett Society and<br />

Yess Law, a group of lawyers dedicated<br />

to resolving workplace disputes without<br />

litigation. The scheme will help women<br />

p Sam Walker said she would work to help other women who had suffered discrimination<br />

earning £30,000 a year or less who are<br />

experiencing pay discrimination.<br />

“Justice is ... beyond the reach of most<br />

women who simply would not have the<br />

resources to bring a claim of this kind,”<br />

said Ms Walker. “The law needs to change.<br />

“The Women and Equalities Select<br />

Committee is looking at this, but we need<br />

societal change – why would people want<br />

to work for companies who treat their<br />

employees differently?”<br />

She added: “I want to thank my network<br />

of colleagues, family and friends who<br />

have supported me – and that includes<br />

many still employed by the Co-op (you<br />

know who you are).<br />

“I hope the Co-op responds to this<br />

ruling in a way that reflects its stated<br />

values, holds those accountable to<br />

account and listens to their other female<br />

employees who I hope will now feel able<br />

to step forward and demand equal pay.”<br />

A spokesman for the Group said: “The<br />

tribunal dismissed most of Ms Walker’s<br />

claims and held that Ms Walker’s<br />

dismissal was not discriminatory. We are<br />

pleased that the tribunal accepted our<br />

evidence in relation to these claims.<br />

“While the tribunal upheld the unfair<br />

dismissal claim on procedural grounds,<br />

we are pleased it found the Co-op<br />

had substantial reasons justifying the<br />

termination of Ms Walker’s employment.<br />

“The tribunal upheld the claim for<br />

equal pay. We are reviewing the tribunal’s<br />

judgement and considering whether to<br />

appeal. We maintain we did not pay Ms<br />

Walker unfairly and continue to believe<br />

we acted in the best interests of our Co-op<br />

and its members.”<br />

Group brings in JDA Software to revamp its supply chain process<br />

The Co-op Group has announced a<br />

project with supply chain specialist<br />

JDA Software to revitalise its category<br />

management processes.<br />

The first phase of a multi-year plan<br />

which will see the retailer “getting closer<br />

to the needs of members and customers”,<br />

it will upgrade Group stores to the latest<br />

version of JDA Space Planning, Floor<br />

Planning and Category Knowledge Base.<br />

JDA says this will create “an end-to-end<br />

streamlined approach to managing its<br />

retail stores from floor to shelf”.<br />

Michael Fletcher, retail chief<br />

commercial officer at the Group, said:<br />

“Our powerful JDA Category Management<br />

solution footprint enables us to anticipate<br />

shopper demands with agility and speed.<br />

We look forward to continuing to build on<br />

this robust foundation as we continue to<br />

deliver our strategy.”<br />

The Group worked with a collaborative<br />

team from JDA, and partners Tata<br />

Consultancy Services (TCS) and Deloitte,<br />

for the first step of the project.<br />

JDA says it will allow the Group<br />

to automate its planograms – visual<br />

representations of a store’s products or<br />

services on display – to localise its offer.<br />

The retailer will also be able to work with<br />

its teams and suppliers to ensure they are<br />

delivering accurate and early stocking<br />

information for each store. There will be<br />

more insight into shopper behaviour at<br />

macro and local level, allowing the Group<br />

to better plan its store layouts, tailored<br />

from store to store.<br />

“Maintaining a competitive edge<br />

and anticipating shopper demands is<br />

more important than ever,” said Johan<br />

Reventberg from JDA. “We’re pleased<br />

to enable such a critical piece of the<br />

Co-op’s retail business transformation<br />

by underpinning it with our best-in-class<br />

category management solutions that will<br />

give them the right balance of right item,<br />

right store, right time, with the efficiency<br />

and agility they need.”<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 7

BUDGET<br />

Co-op sector pours cold water on Hammond’s budget<br />

p Philip Hammond<br />

There were a number of measures in<br />

Philip Hammond’s budget last month<br />

which could impact on the co-op sector.<br />

The sector welcomed some of the<br />

changes around housing policy, credit<br />

unions and support for small retailers,<br />

but warned that it lacked a strategic<br />

dimension to address the issues facing the<br />

UK economy after Brexit.<br />

Ed Mayo, secretary general of<br />

Co-operatives UK, said: “A number<br />

of the specific measures will be welcome,<br />

including a degree of support for small<br />

retailers and for social housing, but this<br />

is a tactical and not a strategic budget. It<br />

does little to answer the question of what<br />

kind of economy Britain is to pursue.”<br />

Jim McMahon MP, chair of the Co-op<br />

Party group of MPs, said: “This was<br />

a budget that failed to champion the<br />

fairest forms of business: co-operatives<br />

democratically owned by their customers<br />

and employees.”<br />

A Co-op Party budget would require<br />

companies to demonstrate basic standards<br />

of tax transparency through measures<br />

such as the Fair Tax Mark, he added,<br />

and would bring in “a radical redesign<br />

of business rates to end to the unfair<br />

advantage enjoyed by online retailers”.<br />

He said: “It’s within our power,<br />

through the decisions we make as<br />

consumers and here in parliament<br />

as policymakers, to shape those trends<br />

and decide the kind of economy we<br />

want, and the kind of business culture<br />

that can deliver it. At a time when the<br />

country needed boldness, this is a<br />

missed opportunity to transform how our<br />

economy is run.”<br />

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social<br />

Enterprise UK, said: “The chancellor had<br />

an opportunity to back social enterprises<br />

that share growth by paying their staff<br />

fairly and reinvesting their profits back<br />

into their communities. Unfortunately,<br />

he decided to rely on old fashioned and<br />

failed economic ideas.”<br />

But there were some positives in the<br />

budget. The Association of British Credit<br />

Unions (Abcul) welcomed a pilot savings<br />

scheme for credit unions to boost peoples’<br />

financial resilience and raise awareness<br />

of the sector.<br />

Head of policy and communications<br />

Matt Bland said: “This initiative will be<br />

good for both credit unions and their<br />

members; it will provide people with a<br />

further incentive to save regularly with<br />

their local credit union for planned and<br />

unplanned expenses. Abcul is working<br />

closely with the Treasury on the pilot<br />

scheme and we look forward to ensuring<br />

the best solutions moving forward.”<br />


Co-op College launches<br />

centenary year<br />

p The centenary launch event<br />

The Co-operative College has officially<br />

marked the launch of its centenary, calling<br />

on the movement to help shape its future.<br />

Founded in 1919 as part of a<br />

Co-operative Congress Resolution, the<br />

college is an independent, memberled<br />

educational charity that delivers<br />

education, training, events and projects,<br />

and undertakes research.<br />

A launch event, held in central<br />

Manchester on 22 November, showcased<br />

how the organisation has changed over<br />

the years and how its work continues to<br />

transform communities and change lives<br />

in the UK and across the world. It was<br />

also revealed that the College’s annual<br />

Education and Research Conference<br />

would take place in Rochdale –<br />

the modern birthplace of co-operation –<br />

from 26-28 November 2019.<br />

“Our bedrock is the co-op movement,”<br />

said Nigel Todd, College chair, at the<br />

event. “Our mission is to take the values<br />

and the distinctiveness of what we do out<br />

to the wider world. We’ve been around<br />

for 100 years – we can look forward<br />

confidently and with maturity to<br />

the next 100 years, guided by our<br />

co-operative principles”<br />

Simon Parkinson, CEO and principal<br />

of the College, said that while the<br />

organisation was proud of its history and<br />

heritage, the centenary year would also<br />

be used as a launchpad to project a new<br />

image of the College.<br />

“Next year we’re re-launching our<br />

formal learning and development offer,”<br />

he said. “We’re becoming a registered with<br />

the chartered institute of management,<br />

able to offer accredited qualifications,<br />

and we’re still on track to achieve a longheld<br />

ambition of the movement to see a<br />

co-operative university here in the UK.”<br />

He added: “2019 will be a landmark<br />

year for us, as we re-focus our energies<br />

and ask the movement to help shape our<br />

next 100 years. With members at the heart<br />

everything we do, there’s never been a<br />

better time to join and help us build<br />

a fairer world for everyone.”<br />

8 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>


Film yourself and get online to<br />

build a co-operative nation<br />

The Co-op Group<br />

Board Member<br />

Nominated Director<br />

The Co-op is looking for candidates from its<br />

membership to join its Board and contribute to its<br />

ongoing success.<br />

p Co-operatives Fortnight will run from 24 June - 7 July<br />

Co-operatives UK has announced the theme for next year’s<br />

Co-operatives Fortnight (24 June-7 July), which will focus on<br />

creating a co-operation nation.<br />

The Fortnight campaign was launched today at the Practitioners<br />

Forum in Manchester. Co-operatives UK, the apex body for the<br />

sector, is calling on all co-operatives to join the campaign by<br />

carrying out an act of co-operation, and film or photograph it<br />

for social media using the hashtag #CoopFortnight/ They should<br />

also nominate or tag another co-op to do the same.<br />

For the first time, co-ops are also being asked to pledge to take<br />

part by completing a quick online form, with a rough idea of what<br />

they plan to do.<br />

The campaign was designed to kickstart a chain reaction from<br />

co-op to co-op.<br />

Co-operatives UK, which is co-ordinating the campaign, will<br />

then add up the number of participants and create national<br />

and regional press releases featuring the most interesting and<br />

inspiring events.<br />

“From community clean-ups, to collecting donations for a local<br />

food bank or opening up your co-op to educate people about coops,<br />

what practical ways can your co-op involve people working<br />

together in co-operation?” asked Ed Mayo, secretary general of<br />

Co-operatives UK. “Can you set a target for the number of bags of<br />

litter, families fed or people you teach?<br />

“Together we’ll show everyone why co-operation is what the<br />

world needs right now.”<br />

He added: “The theme is about joining together – it’s about<br />

action rather than just raising awareness. We’re turning Co-ops<br />

Fortnight into a real vehicle for action.”<br />

Wendy Carter, head of communications and marketing at<br />

Co-operatives UK, said: “We want to capture people’s attention<br />

and to do this we need to paint a picture of the sheer number<br />

of people joining our call for a Co-operation Nation. Even if it’s<br />

just a seed of an idea for now, tell us your plans and we’ll use<br />

this information to promote the campaign, and your activity up<br />

to and during Co-op Fortnight.”<br />

More information on the Co-operatives Fortnight and how to<br />

get involved is available at www.uk.coop/fortnight.<br />

As a Member Nominated Director (MND) you’ll be<br />

the voice of Co-op members in the boardroom.<br />

You’ll oversee commercial and financial<br />

performance, and make sure Co-op businesses<br />

keep co-operative values and principles front and<br />

centre.<br />

Potential candidates must demonstrate:<br />

• A track record at an equivalent level and<br />

awareness of the strategic and operational<br />

challenges of a big, complex business like Co-op<br />

• Integrity, independence and empathy with Co-op<br />

values alongside the broad experience required<br />

of any non-executive director<br />

• The ability to contribute at board level while<br />

developing an excellent working relationship with<br />

the Co-op Members’ Council<br />

There are two MND positions available. If you are<br />

selected as a candidate you will be invited to take<br />

part in a contested election in which its members<br />

will vote. If successful you will be appointed to the<br />

Board in May 2019. The Board meets monthly in<br />

Manchester. The remuneration is commensurate<br />

with the role and responsibilities.<br />

The Board aims to represent the geographical,<br />

gender, cultural and ethnic diversity of the<br />

communities it serves and is an equal opportunities<br />

employer.<br />

For more information about the role and eligibility<br />

criteria please visit: www.saxbam.com/jobs. If you<br />

would like to apply please visit www.co-operative.<br />

coop/mndelection<br />

The closing date for applications is 17 December<br />

<strong>2018</strong><br />

Saxton Bampfylde will be working with the Co-op<br />

throughout this process as its chosen professional<br />

search advisers<br />

u Practitioners Forum reports: p;25-27<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 9<br />

335567_COOP_MND_Advert_78x226_v1.indd 1 19/11/<strong>2018</strong> 15:18


100 years on from the Armistice, the co-op<br />

movement pays tribute to the fallen<br />

The world marked the centenary of the<br />

end of World War 1 on 11 November, and<br />

the co-op movement paid its own tributes.<br />

Stores across the retail movement<br />

joined the two minutes silence on<br />

Remembrance Sunday.<br />

And a number of Co-op Group Funeral<br />

homes, as well as those of independent<br />

co-operative societies, created window<br />

displays honouring the war generation,<br />

while Co-op Funeralcare introduced a<br />

poppy-themed hearse to it fleet.<br />

Displays mounted by the movement<br />

included a memorial windows at Southern<br />

Co-op. At the society’s Fratton Branch in<br />

Portsmouth, funeral co-ordinator James<br />

Wiltshire-Bowles paid tribute to his great<br />

uncle, Pte Frederick James Pluck, who was<br />

killed aged 26 on the first day of the Battle<br />

of the Somme, on 1 July 1916. His photo<br />

was included in the window display.<br />

In a ceremony on 8 November, Co-op<br />

Group staff gathered in Manchester,<br />

to read out the names of the 810<br />

Co-operative Wholesale Society<br />

colleagues killed in the conflict.<br />

In a blog post on the Group website,<br />

chief executive Steve Murrells paid his<br />

own tributes to the fallen colleagues. He<br />

also highlighted CWS’s measures to keep<br />

soldiers’ jobs open for their return, and to<br />

avoid wartime price inflation.<br />

And he spoke of the work of the society<br />

and its female members and staff to<br />

promote peace, with the Co-op Women’s<br />

Guild launching the white poppy in 1933.<br />

This year, the white poppy – which<br />

commemorates civilian as well as military<br />

casualties – reached a record 122,385<br />

sales, up 20% on last year, said organiser<br />

the Peace Pledge Union. It said the news<br />

was a sign of growing acceptance of its<br />

anti-militarist values.<br />

Midcounties Co-operative held a range<br />

of activities, including a poppy design<br />

contest for schools in its trading area. The<br />

winner was Shrubland Street Community<br />

Primary School, which won £500 to<br />

spend on history resources. And society<br />

colleagues raised funds for the British<br />

Legion, laid wreaths and planted poppy<br />

flower seeds in parks and green spaces.<br />

Lincolnshire Co-op gave the Royal<br />

British Legion Poppy Appeal a £7,000<br />

donation – as well as support with instore<br />

promotion and fundraising.<br />

p A Co-op Group colleague remembers fallen<br />

CWS workers at the Manchester ceremony<br />

(top) and a Southern Co-op display (above)<br />


Co-operatives UK urges movement to join FCA consultation<br />

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is<br />

considering abolishing the annual fees it<br />

charges societies, which could save them<br />

between £67 and £495 a year, under a<br />

series of proposals which have been put<br />

out for consultation.<br />

Apex body Co-operatives UK welcomed<br />

the suggestion to abolish the fees, as<br />

well as the proposal to make it free for<br />

the public to access the online Mutuals<br />

Register – which currently costs £12.<br />

Co-operatives UK says it is already free<br />

to access similar records on the online<br />

Companies House register, and claims<br />

the cost to access the Mutuals Register<br />

has reduced its accessibility, causing<br />

difficulties for societies.<br />

Secretary general Ed Mayo said: “This<br />

is one more proof – alongside our work to<br />

reduce accounting fees by cutting the need<br />

for mid-year audits and our HR service<br />

which saves members money through<br />

joint purchasing – that Co-operatives UK<br />

is good for our members’ wallets.<br />

“I’m proud of our advocacy on behalf of<br />

our members around regulatory fees and<br />

I certainly want to recognise the FCA for<br />

doing the right thing as a result by co-ops<br />

and credit unions.”<br />

Co-operatives UK also suggested the FCA<br />

Mutuals Team continue to receive funding<br />

to carry out its “critical functions” as an<br />

“enabler of co-operative and community<br />

business” and as “a protector of the<br />

integrity of these special legal forms”.<br />

It wants members to respond to the<br />

consultation, which is open until 14<br />

January 2019: email cp18-34@fca.org.<br />

uk or write to David Cheesman, FCA, 12<br />

Endeavour Square, London, E20 1JN.<br />

10 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

Co-op Academy students give Bright Futures a new look<br />

p Revolver’s new drinking chocolate<br />


Revolver tops the table<br />

of ethical coffee<br />

Ethical Consumer magazine has ranked<br />

the Revolver Co-operative first in ethics<br />

among 32 European coffee brands, ahead<br />

of Cafe Direct (5), Lavazza (17), Carte Noir<br />

(18), Illy (24) and Douwe Egberts (29).<br />

Revolver obtained a score of 17 out of 20.<br />

The co-operative behind the Revolver<br />

World brand sources its coffee and<br />

commodities from co-ops around the<br />

world. It boasts Fairtrade certifications<br />

as well as Ethical Consumer’s positive<br />

Product Sustainability mark. More than<br />

half of its products are certified organic by<br />

the Soil Association.<br />

Revolver was also awarded Ethical<br />

Consumer’s best rating for Supply<br />

Chain Management and Environmental<br />

Reporting, and positive GMO policy. The<br />

co-op is certified by both the Fair Tax<br />

Mark and the Living Wage Foundation,<br />

holds the City of Birmingham’s Charter<br />

for Social Responsibility and has been<br />

awarded a positive Company Ethos mark.<br />

Revolver chief executive Paul Birch said<br />

the co-op’s coffee had “great taste to match<br />

the great ethics”. Revolver won seven<br />

Ethical Consumer Great Taste Awards in<br />

2015, 2016, 2017 and <strong>2018</strong>.<br />

In partnership with Belgian Chocolatiers<br />

Callebaut, Revolver is launching a new<br />

range of drinking chocolate. Luxury<br />

Belgian Callebaut Drinking Chocolate is<br />

not made of cocoa powder but real shards<br />

of chocolate, both milk and white.<br />

Callebaut chocolate supports the work<br />

of Cocoa Horizons Foundation, a nonprofit<br />

organisation devoted to improving<br />

the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their<br />

communities.<br />

The hot chocolate is available for sale at<br />

Midcounties Co-op stores.<br />

Pupils at Co-op Academy Failsworth in<br />

Manchester have won a competition to<br />

design the logo for the Bright Futures<br />

programme, pioneered by the Co-op Group<br />

and City Hearts charity to offer paid work<br />

to survivors of modern slavery. Students<br />

Jamie Brabin and Daniel Aitken submitted<br />

the winning design. The competition, run<br />

across several Co-op Academies, taught<br />

students about the issue of modern slavery.<br />

Scotmid passes go to secure a Monopoly spot<br />

A bright new look for Suma Wholefoods<br />

Scotmid Co-operative appears in the<br />

new Edinburgh edition of the Monopoly<br />

board game. The city’s oldest retailer,<br />

Scotmid appears as a Community Chest<br />

card. Scotmid chief executive John Brodie<br />

said: “Scotmid are delighted to be part of<br />

such an iconic game and it is fitting that<br />

we are included as we’ve been part of the<br />

Edinburgh landscape since 1859.”<br />

Worker co-op Suma Wholefoods launches<br />

a rebrand in December. A spokesperson<br />

said: “We are refreshing the way Suma<br />

looks to help products stand out, boost<br />

sales for customers and reflect the fact that<br />

Suma is a bold and colourful business.<br />

Although the way we look is changing,<br />

what we stand for, and what’s inside the<br />

packaging, will stay just the same.”<br />

Locality calls for more help for the community sector<br />

The head of community group network<br />

Locality wants more support for the sector.<br />

CEO Tony Armstrong made the remarks<br />

while welcoming the government’s Open<br />

Doors project, allowing community<br />

groups to use empty shops. “Community<br />

organisations are stretched, with rising<br />

demand and limited funding,” he said.<br />

Co-operative Party calls for public vote on Brexit deal<br />

The Co-op Party repeated its call for a<br />

public vote on the Brexit deal, which<br />

has prompted continued disagreement<br />

within the government. Party chair<br />

Gareth Thomas said the deal “will have<br />

implications for all of us ... it can’t be<br />

right that such decisions are made behind<br />

closed doors by a handful of people.”<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 11

RETAIL<br />

How a human chain made world news of a small co-op bookstore<br />

Radical bookstore co-op October Books<br />

has made a move to new premises – with<br />

the help of 250 volunteers.<br />

The Southampton co-op made headlines<br />

around the world when supporters formed<br />

a human chain to move more than 2,000<br />

books to its new home.<br />

Locals came together after the co-op<br />

appealed for help on Facebook, and lined<br />

the 850m route between its old home<br />

and the new premises to pass the stock<br />

along. Passers-by stopped to join in and<br />

cafes along the way provided volunteers<br />

with refreshments.<br />

News of the joint effort – designed by<br />

the co-op as an accessible way for people<br />

to come together to contribute – went<br />

global, with admiring reports by the<br />

Washington Post, New York Times, the<br />

Guardian, Huffington Post, BBC and CNN.<br />

The move meant high-profile reports<br />

not just on October Books, but about<br />

co-operation, community action and<br />

community fundraising, with the story<br />

shared in countries including Brazil,<br />

Taiwan, France and Canada.<br />

p Books are passed along the human chain<br />

“It was a tremendous show of support<br />

and community and we’re moved<br />

and incredibly touched by it,” Clare<br />

Diaper, who works at October Books,<br />

told reporters. “We are of, and for, our<br />

community and it is truly heartening to<br />

see that reciprocated.”<br />

As a shining example of the sixth cooperative<br />

principle – co-operation among<br />

co-operatives – volunteers included<br />

members of the co-op youth organisation<br />

the Woodcraft Folk and local community<br />

interest company Art House Cafe, which<br />

also helped decorate the new store.<br />

Ian Rothwell from Co-operative<br />

and Community Finance (CCF),<br />

which supported October Books in its<br />

purchase of the new site, also joined<br />

the chain, alongside members of the<br />

city’s Hamwic housing co-operative and<br />

sector organisations Co-op Culture and<br />

Co-operantics.<br />

One of the locals who joined the human<br />

chain, Jani Franck, told the Southern<br />

Daily Echo: “It’s amazing. The power<br />

of community coming together and<br />

achieving something like this. October<br />

Books have done really well. I’m in awe.”<br />

October Books, which formed in 1977,<br />

bought the site, a former NatWest bank, in<br />

August and plans to create a community<br />

hub. The stock will be stored in the old<br />

vault of the bank.<br />

It raised the £487,800 it needed to buy<br />

its new premises through a combination of<br />

loan stock, crowd funding, personal loans<br />

and gifts, and a loan from Co-operative<br />

and Community Finance.<br />


Credit Unions of Wales<br />

launches campaign<br />

against high cost<br />

credit providers<br />

In the lead-up to Christmas, Credit Unions<br />

of Wales – the association of the country’s<br />

18 credit unions – is spearheading the<br />

campaign ‘Credit2Wales’ to protect people<br />

from high cost credit providers.<br />

According to the Money Advice Service,<br />

more than one in six people in Wales are<br />

at risk of being unable to keep up with<br />

credit repayments.<br />

Marking the launch of Credit2Wales,<br />

patron of Credit Unions of Wales, Jane Hutt<br />

AM, said: “Unmanageable debt isn’t just<br />

a finance issue. It impacts all elements of<br />

our lives, including relationships, work,<br />

health, mental health and, of course, the<br />

ability to look after our families.<br />

“Credit isn’t bad, we all need help<br />

sometimes, especially at Christmas, but it<br />

should be fair and manageable. We must<br />

refuse to allow ourselves, our families and<br />

our communities to fall prey to high cost<br />

lenders, and stamp them out by turning to<br />

credit unions instead.”<br />

Credit Unions of Wales compared the<br />

cost of an iPad with a well-known rentto-own<br />

company against buying it on the<br />

high street using a credit union loan. The<br />

rent-to-own retailer would charge a 99.9%<br />

APR interest rate, meaning the total repaid<br />

over two years would be £676. This was<br />

at least £254 more than borrowing from<br />

a credit union – almost enough to buy<br />

another iPad.<br />

Andrew Johnson, advice manager at<br />

the Money Advice Service, said: “Credit<br />

unions are financial co-operatives, owned<br />

by the people who use their services, and<br />

not by external shareholders or investors.<br />

Where profits are passed on to their<br />

members in the form of better rates and<br />

lower fees when compared to high cost<br />

credit alternatives.<br />

“At a time when people are more likely<br />

to seek high-cost short-term credit, access<br />

to affordable credit and understanding<br />

your options is vital.”<br />

Credit Unions of Wales recommends<br />

that people look at the interest rate, term<br />

of the loan (how many weeks, months or<br />

years) and total amount repaid to be sure<br />

they are getting the best deal.<br />

The campaign will encourage people<br />

to use the social media hashtags<br />

#credit2wales and #credydigymru.<br />

12 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>


Aardman, the home of Wallace and Gromit, transfers control to workers<br />

p Aardman co-founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton; and the studio’s biggest stars, Wallace and Gromit<br />

The co-founders of Aardman, the Oscarwinning<br />

animation studio which created<br />

Wallace and Gromit, is to transfer a<br />

75% stake to its workers, to protect the<br />

company’s independence.<br />

Peter Lord and David Sproxton<br />

announced “that they are preparing the<br />

company for continued success over<br />

the next few decades by transferring<br />

the company into employee ownership,<br />

effectively selling the company to<br />

the workforce”.<br />

They say this will secure “the creative<br />

legacy and culture of the company”,<br />

which produced hits including Chicken<br />

Run, Creature Comforts and Shaun the<br />

Sheep, “for many decades to come”.<br />

The majority of Aardman’s shares will<br />

be transferred into a trust, holding them<br />

on behalf of the company’s workforce,<br />

along similar lines to the John Lewis<br />

Partnership. The senior management<br />

team will remain in their existing roles<br />

and will form the executive board to<br />

ensure continuity.<br />

Mr Sproxton will continue as managing<br />

director but is looking to appoint a<br />

successor – who will be accountable to<br />

the trust – within the next 12 months<br />

before moving into a consultancy role.<br />

Mr Lord will remain in his role as<br />

creative director with a focus on the<br />

company’s feature film output, set to<br />

include a second Shaun the Sheep movie<br />

and a sequel to Chicken Run. “We’re<br />

not quitting yet,” said the two men in a<br />

statement, “but we are preparing for our<br />

future. This approach, the creation of an<br />

employee trust, is the best solution we<br />

have found for keeping Aardman doing<br />

what it does best, keeping the teams in<br />

place and providing continuity for our<br />

highly creative culture. And of course,<br />

those that create value in the company<br />

will continue to benefit directly from the<br />

value they create.”<br />

They added: “The statistics show<br />

that employee-owned companies are<br />

significantly more successful than<br />

conventionally owned companies. So we<br />

are very excited by the prospect of seeing<br />

Aardman roll far into the future under<br />

this arrangement and can rest easy that<br />

those four decades which have slipped by<br />

have paved the way for many more years<br />

of great creativity.”<br />

Founded in 1972, the Bristol-based<br />

studio – whose portfolio also includes<br />

children’s TV character Morph, Peter<br />

Gabriel’s Sledgehammer video and<br />

computer-animated film Flushed Away –<br />

has branched out into video games, theme<br />

park attractions, commercial advertising,<br />

interactive content and rights and brand<br />

development.<br />

Oscar-winning director Nick Park –<br />

the key creative voice behind Aardman’s<br />

hits – will continue to have an active role<br />

in the studio’s feature film and shorts<br />

productions. He will sit on the new<br />

executive board of directors, which will<br />

report to the board of trustees, which<br />

will ensure the executive follows the core<br />

values of the organisation and acts in the<br />

interest of its workforce.<br />

The executive board also includes<br />

Heather Wright, executive director,<br />

partner content, who said: “Employee<br />

ownership is a perfect way of<br />

futureproofing [Aardman’s] independent<br />

spirit and thinking, and allowing us<br />

to protect the legacy while continuing<br />

to nurture new talent and ideas and<br />

diversify our storytelling into new areas<br />

of theme parks, console games and<br />

interactive content.”<br />

Deb Oxley, chief executive of the<br />

Employee Ownership Association,<br />

said: “We congratulate Aardman on its<br />

transition to employee ownership, which<br />

is a great example of where the employee<br />

ownership trust model can be used to<br />

secure the businesses ethos, creative<br />

values and independence for the longer<br />

term while helping those who supported<br />

its creative success to share in the value<br />

they create.<br />

“This has been an exciting journey<br />

for us to support David, Peter and the<br />

team knowing that Aardman’s iconic<br />

productions will continue to bring joy to<br />

fans for many more years to come.”<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 13


Sir Dennis Landau, former CWS chief executive, 1927-<strong>2018</strong><br />

Sir Dennis Landau, former chief executive<br />

of the Co-operative Wholesale Society<br />

(CWS), has died after a short illness.<br />

He joined the CWS – now the Co-op<br />

Group – in 1970 as food controller and<br />

was deputy CEO from 1974 to 1980 and<br />

CEO from 1980 to 1992.<br />

In the their history of the Group,<br />

Building Co-operation, John F Wilson,<br />

Anthony Webster and Rachael Vorberg-<br />

Rugh wrote that, as deputy CEO, he played<br />

a leading role in the rationalisation of<br />

CWS’s activities in the 1970s, with efforts<br />

to modernise production and distribution<br />

and to increase productivity.<br />

Stepping up to the role of CEO, he<br />

tried to improve CWS’s commercial<br />

performance by increasing integration<br />

of the its retail activities, renationalising<br />

production and distribution activities,<br />

and developing closer links with retail<br />

societies. He tightened up management<br />

controls and reorganised CWS into seven<br />

business groups to give the executive<br />

team greater focus.<br />

He also attempted to more closely<br />

integrate the retail movement, including<br />

unsuccessful moves to merge CWS with<br />

Co-operative Retail Services.<br />

Sir Dennis was born on 18 June 1927;<br />

the third child of Michael Landau, a<br />

metallurgist and Florence Landau. He was<br />

educated at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School<br />

Hampstead. His service in the British army<br />

included participating in the liberation of<br />

Bergen Belsen concentration camp.<br />

He started his career as a food chemist<br />

for Jaffa Juice. He then worked for<br />

Schweppes, later Cadbury Schweppes<br />

in various roles, including managing<br />

director of Schweppes East Africa from<br />

1958 to 1962 and deputy chair and<br />

managing director of Cadbury Schweppes<br />

Foods in 1970.<br />

After leaving the helm of CWS he was<br />

chair of the Unity Trust Bank from 1992<br />

to 2000.<br />

He was a member of the Metrication<br />

Board from 1972 to 1980, chair of the<br />

Council of the Manchester Business<br />

School from 1991 to 1993 and a member<br />

of the Court of Manchester University from<br />

1992 to 2000.<br />

Sir Dennis was knighted in 1987. He<br />

was a keen rugby and cricket player and<br />

was president of the Lancashire County<br />

Cricket Club from 2003 to 2007 and vice<br />

president until his death.<br />

p Sir Dennis Landau<br />

He leaves a widow, Lady Pamela Landau<br />

(formerly Garlick) whom he married in<br />

1992 and two stepsons; Christopher<br />

and Stephen.<br />

He is also survived by his sisters Daphne<br />

Heiser (born 1921) and Vivienne Tabor<br />

(born 1924) and his nephew Michael and<br />

nieces Dahlia and Sarah as well as many<br />

friends and relations.<br />

Leo Barcham, founder of Queenslanders Credit Union, 1922-<strong>2018</strong><br />

p Leo Barcham<br />

The founding father of the Queenslanders<br />

Credit Union in Australia, Leo Barcham,<br />

has died in Brisbane at the age of 96.<br />

He helped set up the credit union during<br />

his time as a Queensland public servant,<br />

after some of his colleagues struggled<br />

to purchase basic household items. At a<br />

council meeting of the State Service Union<br />

in 1963, he moved a motion that it sponsor<br />

the formation of a credit union to help<br />

members secure small loans.<br />

Credit unions were the first in the<br />

country to process payroll deductions<br />

for their members once the federal<br />

government lifted the embargo on credit<br />

union registration in 1944.<br />

“Because the borrower is a shareholder,<br />

a part owner of the society, there is no<br />

stigma of debt attached to the loan,”<br />

Mr Barcham said in a subsequent<br />

meeting, which led to the creation of the<br />

Queensland Public Service Employees’<br />

Credit Union.<br />

“The needed finance is made available<br />

to him, not as a favour, but as a right.<br />

He himself has contributed to build up<br />

this organisation to meet just such an<br />

emergency for himself and his neighbours.”<br />

Mr Barcham’s contribution to the<br />

movement was recognised with a Pioneer<br />

Award at the Australian Credit Union<br />

Convention. The accolade praised his<br />

devotion to the movement and practical<br />

demonstration of the co-operative<br />

principles and philosophy of credit unions<br />

at state and national levels.<br />

This year, Queenslanders merged with<br />

Queensland Country Credit Union, forming<br />

the state’s second largest credit union.<br />

Former Queenslanders chair and current<br />

deputy chair of Queensland Country,<br />

Christine Flynn, said: “Although Leo<br />

retired from the board over two decades<br />

ago, he was still well known and loved by<br />

everyone in our team.<br />

“Each year, including the last, he<br />

attended our AGM and would often get up<br />

and speak. His passion for the customer<br />

owned banking movement was inspiring<br />

and will leave a lasting legacy.”<br />

14 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>


USA<br />

Credit unions respond to US mid-term election results<br />

p The Democrats have taken the House of Representatives and the Republicans have held the Senate<br />

US credit unions have reacted to the results<br />

of the mid-term elections, which saw the<br />

Democrats take control of the House of<br />

Representatives and the Republicans hold<br />

on to their majority in the Senate.<br />

The Credit Union National Association<br />

(Cuna) said a credit union-friendly<br />

majority had been elected to Congress.<br />

“Credit unions invested a record $7m<br />

into this election to help continue the<br />

positive momentum we’ve seen for<br />

credit union priorities in Congress,” said<br />

Cuna CEO and president Jim Nussle.<br />

“We’re pleased that we’ll have many<br />

friendly faces in the next Congress,<br />

and we’ll be working hard to connect<br />

with new members and engage with<br />

returning members to advance credit<br />

union priorities.”<br />

“Credit unions will continue to have<br />

a strong seat at the table as we enjoy<br />

bipartisan support in Congress,” said Dan<br />

Berger, president and CEO of the National<br />

Association of Federally-Insured Credit<br />

Unions (Nafcu).<br />

“Whether working with Republicans,<br />

Democrats or independents, our goal<br />

is to achieve an appropriate regulatory<br />

environment that provides a tailored<br />

approach to regulation, a level playing<br />

field, and transparent and independent<br />

regulatory oversight for credit unions and<br />

the 114 million members they serve.”<br />

In May, president Donald Trump signed<br />

the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief<br />

and Consumer Protection Act, which<br />

will result in a reduction in regulatory<br />

requirements for small and medium-sized<br />

banks, including credit unions.<br />

The legislation was welcomed by Cuna,<br />

which described it as a “monumental<br />

win for credit unions”.<br />

But the now-split Congress could<br />

curb legislative activity. Leadership<br />

changes within some committees with<br />

jurisdiction over the financial industry<br />

and tax issues are also expected. “Any<br />

legislation, other than must-pass items,<br />

will need to be strongly bipartisan to<br />

have a chance at passage,” warned Nafcu<br />

vice president of legislative affairs Brad<br />

Thaler.<br />

“For credit unions, this means Congress<br />

may act on items including fintech, data<br />

security and personal privacy, and housing<br />

finance reform if bipartisan solutions can<br />

be found.”<br />

He added: “Targeted regulatory relief<br />

for financial institutions is also still<br />

possible in areas addressing the Bank<br />

Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering.<br />

We expect that there could be a number<br />

of hearings, as each side seeks to stake<br />

out its position on issues, but getting<br />

something moving will take building<br />

bipartisan support.”<br />

The association is calling on both<br />

chambers to address data security and<br />

regulatory relief measures.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 15

pTop: USAID provided food aid to help Wilfred Charles to build community irrigation for agriculture. Bottom: USAID supported Doaa Mohammed<br />

Bakr Turky of Egypt with her duck farming enterprise. (Photos: USAID)<br />

USA<br />

USAID awards $60m for co-operative development<br />

Ten US organisations have received<br />

funding from the government to promote<br />

co-operative development.<br />

The US Agency for International<br />

Development (USAID) granted $60m<br />

(£46.04) over five years (2019 – 2023)<br />

for the Cooperative Development<br />

Program (CDP). Dating back to 1962,<br />

the programme enables US co-ops and<br />

their members to work on projects with<br />

co-operatives in developing countries.<br />

The US Overseas Cooperative<br />

Development Council (OCDC) and its<br />

member organisations received funding to<br />

expand their work on agriculture, finance<br />

and health.<br />

Paul Hazen, OCDC executive director,<br />

said: “The CDP is the only programme<br />

within USAID that is focused on<br />

co-operatives and the programme’s<br />

impact has been significant, lifting<br />

millions of people from poverty by<br />

leveraging private funding to amplify<br />

public funds.”<br />

The eight OCDC members who received<br />

funding are Cooperative Resources<br />

International, Equal Exchange, Global<br />

Communities, HealthPartners, Land<br />

O’Lakes International, NCBA Clusa,<br />

NRECA International and World Council<br />

of Credit Unions (Woccu). Frontier<br />

Cooperative Herbs also received a grant<br />

from USAID.<br />

In addition, OCDC was granted $6.9m<br />

through the CDP to research the impact<br />

and effectiveness of co-operatives in<br />

international development.<br />

One of the OCDC members to benefit<br />

from funding, Woccu is running<br />

a co-operative development project on<br />

Technology and Innovation for Financial<br />

Inclusion (CDP TIFI). The initiative<br />

will increase sustainable lending to<br />

small and medium enterprises (SMEs)<br />

by deploying Woccu’s SME Lending<br />

Toolkit and building a global<br />

knowledge-sharing platform.<br />

For this project, Woccu is working<br />

with a number of regional partners – the<br />

Confederation of Financial Institutions<br />

of West Africa (Confédération des<br />

Institutions Financières de l’Afrique<br />

de ‘Ouest, CIF) in Burkina Faso; the<br />

National Federation of Savings and<br />

Credit Cooperatives (Federación<br />

Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y<br />

Crédito, FENACOAC) in Guatemala; and<br />

the Kenya Union of Savings and Credit<br />

Co-operatives (KUSCCO).<br />

Land O’Lakes International<br />

Development was awarded funding<br />

to support new agricultural capacitybuilding<br />

and food safety programmes in<br />

Georgia, Egypt, Bangladesh, Lebanon,<br />

Rwanda and Malawi.<br />

John Ellenberger, executive director<br />

of Land O’Lakes International<br />

Development, said his organisation<br />

“welcomes the ongoing partnership<br />

of USAID and USDA as we<br />

continue leveraging the expertise<br />

of a nearly century-old, farmer-owned<br />

co-operative to improve livelihoods<br />

and enhance agriculture worldwide.<br />

“We’re excited to build collaborative<br />

efforts for international economic<br />

development that unite host country<br />

agricultural stakeholders, Land O’Lakes,<br />

Inc. farmers and technical staff,<br />

government leaders and academic experts<br />

to maximise results.”<br />

16 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

USA<br />

America’s community credit unions<br />

gather to welcome an Inclusiv new start<br />

p Delegates including Cathie Mahon (third from left) and Matt Bland (third from right)<br />

The umbrella body for the USA’s<br />

community development credit unions<br />

announced its new brand at its national<br />

conference last month.<br />

The event, in Florida, saw chief<br />

executive Cathie Mahon unveil the name<br />

change from the National Federation of<br />

Community Development Credit Unions<br />

to Inclusiv.<br />

She said: “For decades, the federation<br />

and community development credit<br />

unions (CDCU) have been building trust<br />

and delivering relevant products to<br />

underserved people with dignity and<br />

respect. Inclusiv will build on the 44<br />

year legacy of the Federation to grow the<br />

visibility and impact of mission-driven<br />

credit unions.”<br />

CDCUs have a mission of serving<br />

low- and moderate-income people, and<br />

specialise in serving populations with<br />

limited access to safe financial services.<br />

The conference was attended by a<br />

delegation from UK sector body the<br />

Association of British Credit Unions<br />

(Abcul), including representatives<br />

of Enterprise Credit Union, First Scottish<br />

University Credit Union, Pennine<br />

Community Credit Union and Transave<br />

Credit Union.<br />

David Harris, marketing manager at<br />

Pennine Community Credit Union (PCCU)<br />

presented a workshop sharing how he<br />

transformed PCCU’s digital marketing<br />

strategy and how it has coincided with a<br />

significant growth in the credit union’s<br />

lending book.<br />

Abcul’s Matt Bland also addressed<br />

delegates in a plenary session drawing<br />

comparisons between credit unions in the<br />

UK and US.<br />

Pablo DeFilippi said he saw the<br />

partnership between Inclusiv and Abcul<br />

as a “great opportunity to be able to share<br />

our experiences and learn from each other<br />

as we face so many common challenges in<br />

successfully serving communities”.<br />

He added: “It’s been great to continue<br />

our partnership with Abcul and the UK<br />

credit union sector.<br />

“We hope to be able to build on this<br />

partnership in the coming years to the<br />

benefit of underserved people in both the<br />

UK and US.”<br />

Electric co-ops use low-interest loans to power efficiency savings<br />

Electric co-ops in the USA are offering<br />

low-interest loans to members, which<br />

are repaid with their monthly power<br />

bills, so they can afford energy-efficiency<br />

improvements.<br />

The loans, which come at 3% interest,<br />

are available under the Rural Energy<br />

Savings Program (RESP), a scheme from<br />

the US Department of Agriculture which<br />

has made up to $100m available for loans<br />

during the 2019 fiscal year.<br />

NRECA, the umbrella body for the<br />

country’s electric co-ops, says its member<br />

organisations can obtain funds from the<br />

pool at 0% interest and use them to help<br />

consumer-members make long-awaited<br />

efficiency improvements with no need for<br />

down payments.<br />

Energy upgrades funded through the<br />

scheme include high-efficiency heat<br />

pumps, attic insulation, caulking, and<br />

weatherstripping – which will help<br />

co-op members keep electricity costs<br />

down and be “bill neutral”, with the<br />

monthly savings from the upgrades<br />

offsetting the monthly loan payments.<br />

Help is also being offered to members<br />

who get energy audit options for financing<br />

energy-saving improvements and<br />

upgrades. That’s particularly attractive<br />

for higher-cost improvements they<br />

otherwise might delay or avoid because<br />

of upfront costs.<br />

NRECA says the scheme comes at a<br />

welcome time, as the demand for winter<br />

heating begins, and is particularly<br />

important in states like South Carolina,<br />

where a quarter of co-op members live in<br />

prefabricated housing which can be prone<br />

to heat leaks as they age, forcing utility<br />

bills through the roof.<br />

It gives the example of Diane Taylor,<br />

a member of the state’s Aiken Electric<br />

Cooperative, who once received a<br />

bill of more than £700 for her poorly<br />

insulated home. The co-op enrolled her<br />

in its Help My House programme, which<br />

saw contractors make improvements<br />

including insulation, caulking and<br />

weatherstripping, a new energy-efficient<br />

heat pump with a thermostat, and sealed<br />

duct work. Ms Taylor told NRECA the<br />

changes are saving her family around<br />

$250 a month, compared to bills before<br />

the upgrades.<br />

“Help My House makes the members’<br />

home more comfortable, saves them<br />

money and they are appreciative,” said<br />

Gary Stooksbury, CEO of Aiken Electric. “If<br />

we are truly about the member, we should<br />

help them lower their energy costs.”<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 17

GLOBAL<br />

International Conference of Labour<br />

Statisticians adopts draft co-op guidelines<br />

The 20th International Conference<br />

of Labour Statisticians adopted a series<br />

of guidelines to develop a set of statistics<br />

on co-operatives.<br />

Held once every five years, the<br />

conference brings together experts from<br />

governments, employers’ and workers’<br />

organisations, and other interest groups<br />

to make recommendations on labour<br />

statistics.<br />

Once the governing body of the<br />

International Labour Organization (ILO)<br />

approves them, the recommendations<br />

become part of international standards on<br />

labour statistics.<br />

The International Co-operative<br />

Alliance (ICA) has been involved in this<br />

process, along with the ICA Committee<br />

on Cooperative Research (CCR) and the<br />

International Organisation of Industrial<br />

and Service Co-operatives (CICOPA).<br />

The draft guidelines point out that<br />

statistics on co-ops should allow for<br />

monitoring of their contribution to labour<br />

markets and the economy; inform the<br />

design, implementation and evaluation<br />

of economic and social policies and<br />

programmes; and facilitate analysis<br />

of groups of workers or members such as<br />

women and men, young people and other<br />

groups of particular concern.<br />

According to the recommendations,<br />

the set of statistics should include data<br />

regarding the number and the type<br />

of co-ops, the members of co-ops, the work<br />

generated in co-ops, and the economic<br />

contribution of co-ops.<br />

In addition, the guidelines mention that<br />

statistics on co-ops should be developed<br />

in consultation with the various users of<br />

the data, “in harmony with other social<br />

and economic statistics and in accordance<br />

with international standards”.<br />

The document also includes reference<br />

concepts and definitions, looking at the<br />

different types of co-ops.<br />

The draft guidelines had been discussed<br />

earlier in April at the second meeting<br />

of the Copac Technical Working Group<br />

(TWG) on Cooperative Statistics at the<br />

ILO’s headquarters in Geneva.<br />

Set up by the Committee of the<br />

Promotion of Co-operatives (Copac) in<br />

2016, the TWG unites key stakeholders<br />

such as national statistics offices, the<br />

co-operative movement, COPAC members,<br />

UN agencies, government representatives<br />

and researchers, to improve the<br />

quality, accessibility and comparability<br />

of statistics on co-operatives around<br />

the world. Its first meeting took place<br />

in 2017.<br />

CANADA<br />

Credit unions pioneer an authenticated voice banking service<br />

Two credit unions in Canada have<br />

launched an authenticated voice<br />

banking service using Amazon Alexa.<br />

The technology is being pioneered by<br />

Innovation Credit Union and Conexus<br />

Credit Union, who partnered with credit<br />

union service organisation Central 1.<br />

The service will enable customers to<br />

make payments, send money to vendors,<br />

transfer money between accounts, and<br />

better understand their financial wellness<br />

with just their voice.<br />

The technology will also help those who<br />

are visually impaired, or are unable to<br />

leave their homes or to use their keyboards<br />

or smartphones to conduct their banking.<br />

“Credit unions need to fix the public’s<br />

perception that banks are more innovative<br />

than they are, and this is a giant step in<br />

that direction,” said Alexander Chan,<br />

product manager with Central 1, who led<br />

the team that developed the technology.<br />

“This new technology is a game<br />

changer in that it improves the banking<br />

experience for a specific demographic of<br />

user; it simulates talking to a live agent,<br />

is secure, flexible and helps people<br />

better understand and manage their<br />

financial wellness.”<br />

Mr Chan added that the technology<br />

was the result of “a highly collaborative<br />

environment and the values that drive<br />

co-operative businesses”.<br />

“The credit union system is different<br />

from other financial institutions in the<br />

sense that bureaucracy doesn’t factor in to<br />

the decision-making process. As a result,<br />

p The new service uses Alexa<br />

we were able to create something very<br />

special, very quickly. Not putting profit<br />

before people means we can focus on the<br />

innovation and design process.”<br />

“Conversational user interaction is<br />

going to play a significant role in future<br />

member interactions, particularly with<br />

millennials and Gen X,” said Dean Gagne,<br />

chief digital and technology officer,<br />

Innovation Credit Union, which provides<br />

financial services to over 49,000 members<br />

including individuals, businesses, and<br />

organisations across the province of<br />

Saskatchewan.<br />

At Conexus – Saskatchewan’s largest<br />

and Canada’s sixth largest credit union<br />

with 125,000 members – chief digital<br />

officer Jeremy Trask said: “We are<br />

passionate about providing solutions<br />

that make a meaningful difference for our<br />

members. Banking is no longer a place<br />

you go, but a thing you do. Partnering<br />

with Central 1 means we’re able to ensure<br />

our members are getting game-changing<br />

technology.”<br />

18 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>


Step to equality: Co-op insurance body<br />

manages equal gender split at Americas event<br />

p Delegates at the LARG event in Panama City<br />

(Photo: ICMIF)<br />

The International Co-operative and<br />

Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF)<br />

had an equal number of men and women<br />

participate in its Americas conference as<br />

speakers, panellists and moderators.<br />

The event, held on 19-21 November in<br />

Cartagena, Colombia, focused on how<br />

co-operative and mutual insurers can<br />

future-proof their businesses to ensure<br />

sustainable competitiveness and the<br />

ability to remain resilient.<br />

Earlier in September, at the annual<br />

meeting of the Latin American Association<br />

for Reinsurance Education (LARG) in<br />

Panama City, women overtook men on<br />

the agenda, with 15 women speakers as<br />

panellists and moderators compared to<br />

12 men.<br />

The federation’s 2017 Biennial<br />

Conference saw a 28% representation<br />

by women on the speaker list and 30%<br />

representation by women on the delegate<br />

list. ICMIF also ran a Young Leaders<br />

Programme at this event, with 49% of the<br />

young leader delegates being women.<br />

“Thirty-one companies from 16<br />

countries sent young leaders to participate<br />

as delegates, and one of the threads<br />

running through the whole conference<br />

was the need for mutuals and co-ops to<br />

develop the next generation of talent,”<br />

says ICMIF vice-president for Business<br />

Intelligence, Ben Telfer.<br />

“The young leaders’ attendance<br />

was embraced by the CEOs and senior<br />

executives who attended and their<br />

presence added to the diversity of thought<br />

at networking events and discussions.<br />

I was delighted to see such an equal<br />

diversity split amongst the participants<br />

too,” he added.<br />

ICMIF set up a Young Leaders Forum for<br />

millennials who have been identified by<br />

their senior managers as strong candidates<br />

to become future leaders within their<br />

organisations. The Forum includes seven<br />

women and five men reflecting current<br />

membership.<br />

Promoting equality is a concern for the<br />

whole co-operative and mutual insurance<br />

sector. Previous research carried out<br />

by ICMIF showed that the percentage<br />

of women on the boards of directors of<br />

mutual and co-operative insurers rose to<br />

20.6% in 2015, compared to an insurance<br />

industry average of just 17.8%.<br />

According to the report, 85% of ICMIF<br />

member companies had at least one<br />

woman director on their board in 2015<br />

and 48% of companies had three or more<br />

women directors, a significantly greater<br />

percentage than the industry average of<br />

just 17% at that time.<br />


Credit unions<br />

to benefit from Basel’s<br />

revised stress tests<br />

Revised stress testing principles from the<br />

Basel Committee on Banking Supervision<br />

are expected to reduce the regulatory<br />

burdens on credit unions and other<br />

community-based financial co-ops.<br />

Regulators across the world implement<br />

the Basel standards when conducting<br />

stress tests of credit unions and other<br />

community -based co-operative depository<br />

institutions. The changes, agreed last<br />

month, will help ensure these tests are<br />

carried out on a more proportionate basis.<br />

“These principles are intended to<br />

be applied on a proportionate basis,<br />

depending on the size, complexity<br />

and risk profile of the bank or banking<br />

sector for which the authority is<br />

responsible,” read the guidelines issued<br />

by the Basel Committee.<br />

The decision represents a major<br />

success for the World Council of Credit<br />

Unions (Woccu), which earlier this year<br />

called for the change.<br />

Michael Edwards, who leads Woccu’s<br />

advocacy efforts, said: “World Council<br />

members have often reported ‘goldplating’<br />

and excessi.<br />

“The Basel Committee’s updated<br />

stress testing principles should help end<br />

those excessive compliance burdens on<br />

credit unions.”<br />

The changes should reduce<br />

unnecessarily high capital requirements<br />

on a case-by-case basis, he added.<br />

“The results of stress testing often<br />

lead to the credit union’s prudential<br />

regulator requiring the institution to<br />

hold more regulatory capital than the<br />

applicable rulebook would normally<br />

require,” he said, “so making those<br />

tests more proportional should in<br />

general reduce capital requirements<br />

on community-based institutions that<br />

are subject to stress testing, but may<br />

help increase capital requirements for<br />

the much more complex too-big-to-fail<br />

banks that the stress testing rules were<br />

originally developed for.”<br />

p Woccu’s Michael Edwards welcomed<br />

the decision<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 19

EUROPE<br />

The last straw: Co-ops get behind the EU’s plastic crackdown<br />

On 24 October MEPs voted to ban singleuse<br />

cutlery, cotton buds, straws and<br />

stirrers – which make up over 70% of<br />

marine litter – by 2021.<br />

Euro Coop, a trade body that represents<br />

European consumer co-op, welcomed the<br />

decision, which also bans products made<br />

of oxo-degradable plastics, such as bags<br />

or packaging and fast-food containers<br />

made of expanded polystyrene.<br />

Under the draft regulations, nonbanned<br />

plastics for which no alternative<br />

exists, such as single-use burger boxes,<br />

sandwich boxes or food containers<br />

for fruits, vegetables, desserts or ice<br />

creams, will have to be reduced by 25%.<br />

Furthermore, beverage bottles will have<br />

to be collected separately and recycled at<br />

a rate of 90% by 2025.<br />

Measures also cover waste from<br />

tobacco products, in particular cigarette<br />

filters containing plastic, which would<br />

have to be reduced by 50% by 2025 and<br />

80% by 2030. Tobacco companies will<br />

be expected to cover the costs of waste<br />

collection for those products, including<br />

transport, treatment and litter collection.<br />

In addition, members states will<br />

need to ensure that at least 50% of lost<br />

or abandoned fishing gear containing<br />

plastic is collected per year, with a<br />

recycling target of at least 15% by 2025.<br />

Fishing gear represents 27% of waste<br />

found on Europe’s beaches.<br />

Rosita Zilli, deputy secretary general<br />

of Euro Coop, said European consumer<br />

co-operatives were already active in<br />

making the shift from a linear to a<br />

circular economy.<br />

“One of the main conclusions is that the<br />

throwaway society in which we currently<br />

live has its days numbered and that it is<br />

no longer the time to speak about ‘waste’<br />

but of ‘reusable resources’,” she added.<br />

“Being retailers mainly active in the<br />

food area, consumer co-operatives that<br />

are members of Euro Coop translated<br />

this precept into action to tackle and<br />

transform waste and rethink how current<br />

production and consumption patterns<br />

take place. Against this backdrop,<br />

yesterday’s EP vote is certainly a move<br />

that supports Euro Coop members’ vision<br />

and spirit towards an enhanced global<br />

circular economy.”<br />

Europe’s industrial and service<br />

co-ops join social economy group<br />

The European confederation of industrial and service<br />

co-operatives, Cecop–Cicopa Europe, is the latest organisation<br />

to join Social Economy Europe (SSE).<br />

SSE represents the 2.8 million social economy enterprises,<br />

including co-operative and mutual insurers, health mutuals,<br />

industrial and service co-ops, foundations, associations of<br />

general interest, social enterprises, ethical and alternative<br />

banks, and cities and regions which support the social economy.<br />

Its president, Juan Antonio Pedreño, said: “We are extremely<br />

happy to welcome Cecop–Cicopa Europe. Co-operatives active<br />

in industry and services are a key pillar of the social economy.<br />

Together, we will continue strengthening the voice of the<br />

European social economy, we will boost our visibility and we<br />

will tirelessly work for a more conducive ecosystem for all<br />

social economy enterprises and organisations.”<br />

Cecop–Cicopa Europe president, Giuseppe Guerini,<br />

added: “SEE is the natural place to grow together with<br />

other organisations that share and promote economic<br />

democracy, and citizens’ participation in the construction of<br />

a fair, free and inclusive market composed by different forms<br />

of enterprises.<br />

“We are very pleased to become a member of SEE with<br />

whom we have been sharing vision and goals for a long time.<br />

In this delicate moment of EU history the role of organisations<br />

bringing people together, fostering unity and participation in<br />

order to achieve solidarity and social inclusion is crucial.”<br />

20 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong><br />

Untitled-1 1 20/09/<strong>2018</strong> 14:10

EUROPE<br />

MEPs explore<br />

the role of social<br />

co-ops in agriculture<br />

p The meeting at the European Parliament<br />

Social co-operatives play a key role in<br />

the agricultural sector in Italy. Their<br />

contribution was the topic of a meeting<br />

hosted by MEPs Elena Gentile, Paolo De<br />

Castro and Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, Italy)<br />

at the European Parliament.<br />

Social agriculture enterprises are<br />

co-ops or other businesses that operate<br />

in the agricultural sector to foster social<br />

inclusion. Around 46% of all enterprises<br />

involved in social agriculture in Italy are<br />

co-operatives. They employ people from<br />

very vulnerable backgrounds such as<br />

ex-offenders, people with disabilities,<br />

refugees, and people struggling with<br />

addiction and mental health issues.<br />

Others provide jobs for people in territories<br />

previously controlled by the mafia.<br />

Ilaria Signoriello from the Euro+Med<br />

Agri Network said decision-makers<br />

should be aware of the economic and<br />

entrepreneurial dimension of social<br />

co-ops in agriculture, which is also seen<br />

in Portugal, Czech Republic and Hungary.<br />

Paolo De Castro expressed concerns over<br />

the cuts to Common Agriculture Policy<br />

(CAP) funding. The budget allocated to<br />

the CAP represents a share of 28.5% of the<br />

overall EU budget for the period 2021-2027,<br />

down 5% from the previous budget.<br />

Roberto Gualtieri called for a European<br />

legal framework for social agriculture.<br />

And CECOP president Giuseppe Guerini,<br />

former president of Federsolidarietà,<br />

looked at the importance of economic<br />

biodiversity, stating that in order to<br />

thrive, societies had to promote a variety<br />

of economic models. He concluded by<br />

calling for an alliance of social co-ops<br />

active in agriculture and public decision<br />

makers to promote this model.<br />

Former refugee hostel re-opens as sustainable hostel<br />

WELCOMMON, the hostel that provided<br />

accommodation to refugees and asylum<br />

seekers in Athens, is now open to<br />

tourists. In February, the UN Refugee<br />

Agency told organising co-op Wind of<br />

Renewal that it will now focus on small<br />

structures such as apartments, rather<br />

than larger facilities such as the hostel.<br />

Funding is still an issue and they are<br />

looking for donations and investors.<br />

New creative co-op for New Zealand’s Wairoa District?<br />

A creative co-op looks set to be formed in<br />

New Zealand’s Wairoa District following<br />

a visit from Craig Presland, CEO of Coop<br />

Business NZ – the country’s representative<br />

body for co-ops – to encourage the<br />

development of local co-op businesses<br />

in the area. He said he wanted to help the<br />

region build upon this economic success<br />

using the co-operative model.<br />

The Co-operators to provide medical cannabis coverage<br />

Canadian insurer the Co-operators is<br />

introducing optional medical cannabis<br />

coverage for its members. Medical cannabis<br />

does not have a Health Canada Drug<br />

Identification Number and is not eligible<br />

for coverage under prescription drug<br />

plans. The Co-operators will consider it<br />

an eligible expense under the ‘all other<br />

extended health care’ category.<br />

Mauritius Business minister pledges support for co-ops<br />

Co-operatives are on the government’s<br />

agenda in Mauritius, according to the<br />

Minister of Business, Enterprise and<br />

Cooperatives, Soomilduth Bholah. Speaking<br />

at the National Awards for Co-ops <strong>2018</strong> on<br />

14 November, the minister highlighted<br />

some of the government’s policies around<br />

co-operatives.<br />

José Antonio Chávez Villanueva Award winners<br />

Young co-operators making contributions<br />

to the movement were presented with<br />

awards at the 5th Co-operative Summit<br />

of the Americas. The awards are a tribute<br />

to the late youth member of the board of<br />

the International Co-operative Alliance,<br />

José Antonio Chávez Villanueva, who was<br />

killed in a car accident in December 2014.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 21

MEET...<br />

Meet ... Katie Cosgrave,<br />

Alumni Lead at RECLAIM Project<br />

Katie Cosgrave is youth engagement officer at the RECLAIM Project, a youth<br />

leadership and social change organisation. The charity works to support<br />

and amplify the voices of working class young people. One of its projects<br />

involves running leadership programmes for 12-15 year olds from working class<br />

communities and support them through an Alumni Network until they are 22.<br />

The charity also developed a range of pilot projects and campaigns on issues<br />

that affect working class communities.<br />



Reclaim Project is a charity for working class young<br />

people. We work with working class communities;<br />

we go into that community, talk with them and<br />

work out what assets are already there. We then<br />

work with them on asset building, looking at how<br />

we can make the spaces better for young people,<br />

and how we can ensure those young people are<br />

being represented in the community.<br />

I started in 2007 on the first Moss Side project as<br />

an internship when [founder] Ruth Ibegbuna was<br />

the CEO. From there I always supported the work,<br />

and I received a paid position four years ago. I love<br />

it! It’s an absolute privilege to work with these<br />

young people.<br />


We have worked with co-ops in the past where<br />

they have come in and spoken to our young<br />

people. Recently, Co-operatives UK’s John<br />

Atherton came to a session to speak about<br />

what co-operatives are, their values, and their<br />

importance. It was interesting as the way<br />

co-ops do things aligns with how the Reclaim<br />

Project believes communities should be run.<br />




I would say that there needs to be an offer there.<br />

They need to make sure that they are positively<br />

representing young people. They need to make<br />

sure that there is definitely something in it for the<br />

young people and provide spaces to listen. Young<br />

people need spaces. If they are in school they don’t<br />

have space – they are just there going from lesson<br />

to lesson. The only time they get is when they are<br />

home facetiming with their friends. They need a<br />

space where they can be themselves. Young people<br />

have a lot to say they are just not being asked the<br />

right questions.<br />



The way in which co-ops are set up is what our<br />

young people want to see. They want an equal<br />

society. They want people to do things not just<br />






22 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

for money but because they need doing. They<br />

understand that and want to take action on things<br />

that needs doing.<br />




RECLAIM project helps to address loneliness<br />

within young people by offering that space for them<br />

to meet. When they are with us, our young people<br />

are in a non-judgemental environment. They<br />

are listened to, they are treated like adults, with<br />

respect. We would never ask anything of them that<br />

they felt uncomfortable with and there’s a space for<br />

them to come and talk. A lot of young people refer<br />

to the Reclaim Project as a family. It’s a space where<br />

like-minded young people can have conversations<br />

about issues that people assume they would not<br />

want to talk about. A lot of our young people talk<br />

about politics and society and it’s a chance for<br />

them to express their views and opinions safely.<br />



We’ve got a few young people that have worked for<br />

us. We’ve given jobs to them, internships; we’ve<br />

supported young people to go to university and<br />

study law or other subjects. We can provide books<br />

for them as well. But also it’s about having someone<br />

who listens to them. A youth worker stays with the<br />

young person a long time and has conversations<br />

about how they feel, including when they feel upset<br />

or that they don’t fit in. Having that conversation<br />

with someone they can trust is what they need.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 23




In the last issue of Co-op News, I read<br />

about Co-op Group Funeral director<br />

Annabel L Davies being nominated for a<br />

national award.<br />

It’s an honour for the funeral director,<br />

but her first question asked: “Why me?”<br />

Why not?. Many never bother to give that<br />

little extra. It cost nothing.<br />

I was nominated for the ‘Pride of East<br />

Yorkshire Award’ a few years ago. It’s a way<br />

of saying ‘thank you’ for thoughtfulness,<br />

and an appreciation of what you freely give<br />

back to people who need help<br />

David Teacher, Hull<br />

Have your say<br />

Add your comments to our stories<br />

online at www.thenews.coop, get<br />

in touch via social media, or send<br />

us a letter. If sending a letter, please<br />

include your address and contact<br />

number. Letters may be edited<br />

and no longer than 350 words.<br />

Co-operative News, Holyoake<br />

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Manchester M60 0AS<br />

letters@thenews.coop<br />

@coopnews<br />

Co-operative News<br />


Over the last three months, the Co-op<br />

has hosted 24 ‘Join in Live’ events up<br />

and down the country. It’s been a chance<br />

for members and colleagues to engage<br />

with us about our progress as a business,<br />

the connections we’ve built with our<br />

communities, the funding of our local<br />

causes, and the important issues we’re<br />

tackling now for the future.<br />

What a brilliant, insightful time it’s<br />

been! The workshops we ran on our ‘Future<br />

of Food’ plan particularly provided us<br />

with lots of insight and talking points on<br />

recycling plastics and becoming greener.<br />

On behalf of the National Members’<br />

Council, I want to thank everyone who<br />

came along to one of the events – your<br />

feedback and suggestions will really help<br />

us to shape the work we do and how we<br />

plan our events for next year, making sure<br />

that your interests are at the heart of it all.<br />

It was great to hear from members who<br />

found the events as worthwhile as we did.<br />

I’ve picked out some of my highlights to<br />

share with Co-op News readers.<br />

“I really enjoyed the event tonight. It was<br />

great to meet and talk with other members<br />

and Co-op colleagues and representatives,<br />

and to hear about all the latest<br />

developments. A fantastic opportunity to<br />

feed back our views on what the Co-op is<br />

doing. I hope you will consider running a<br />

similar event in our area in future.”<br />

“Thank you so much for today. As I said<br />

at the end of the meeting, it was a real<br />

eye opener to see what else the Co-op is<br />

about. As a retired farmer, I appreciate the<br />

way Co-op supports British farming and<br />

that is what drew me into membership in<br />

the first place.<br />

I also appreciate the work that is being<br />

put into free-from foods. I have a grandson<br />

who is allergic to cows’ milk protein, so<br />

your efforts are much valued.<br />

As a Women’s Institute (WI) member,<br />

we are in the middle of our ‘plastic soup’<br />

campaign (tackling ocean pollution), so I<br />

can report back on what was promised at<br />

the meeting.<br />

The meeting was most informative, and<br />

considering I only attended to be nosey, I<br />

came away with lots of information.”<br />

“Thank you for a really interesting<br />

session at the Join in Live event in<br />

Wrexham. I enjoyed hearing from Member<br />

Pioneers and others about all the good<br />

things that were happening with the<br />

community projects. It is uplifting to think<br />

that so many people are benefiting from<br />

our 1%.”<br />

Join in Live has been a great success, and<br />

we have our members and communities<br />

to thank for getting stuck in and being so<br />

passionate about helping us to make a<br />

difference. Here’s to making 2019 even<br />

better, hope to see you there.<br />

Nick Crofts,<br />

President of the Co-op Group<br />

Members’ Council<br />

24 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

‘Business as usual’ is going to kill the planet,<br />

according to Lord Victor Adebowale, and it is up<br />

to co-operatives, social enterprises and associated<br />

organisations to change the future.<br />

Lord Adebowale, who chairs Social Enterprise<br />

UK, is chief executive of the social care enterprise<br />

Turning Point and sits on the board of the Co-op<br />

Group, opened the Practitioners Forum, telling<br />

delegates that their different way of doing business<br />

was the future.<br />

He highlighted how shocks to the economy,<br />

including the 2008 financial crisis, have meant<br />

that every survey for the last decade shows public<br />

opinion of business going the wrong direction.<br />

“People don’t trust business,” he said. “They<br />

don’t trust business leaders and they don’t trust<br />

the notion of business. This is worrying, as<br />

business is important to society – but the future of<br />

society relies on new models of business.”<br />

The public is looking for a new vision, he said.<br />

“But we’re it! The co-op economy contributes<br />

more to GDP than the country’s entire agriculture<br />

sector. The top five co-ops pay more UK tax<br />

than Google, Apple, Amazon and Starbucks<br />

combined. The UK’s 11th largest taxpayer<br />

is Nationwide.”<br />

He believes that younger generations know that<br />

their future does not and cannot rely on ‘business<br />

as usual’. Instead, business will be about helping<br />

people and their communities thrive.<br />

“We are standing on a burning platform,” said<br />

Lord Adebowale. “We don’t have the luxury of<br />

time. Business as usual is going to kill the planet.<br />

We have to grow faster than business as usual in<br />

order to influence the economy and the politics<br />

that drive it.<br />

“These are big issues, and we have to succeed.<br />

Our kids depend on it. It means delivery of real<br />

business results.”<br />

He said the emergence of businesses ‘for good’<br />

shows that ‘business as usual’ recognises the<br />

positive difference co-ops can make. “We need to<br />

understand and protect what that difference is,<br />

and understand why they want to be us.”<br />

Part of that difference, he said, lies in the<br />

co-op values and principles, and their practical<br />

application. On membership and democracy, he<br />

challenged delegates: “You have to get people who<br />

aren’t in this room to join. We think democracy<br />

is the same as voting. It’s not – it’s the process of<br />

debate. We have to take the debate out there and<br />

we have to use language that is understandable<br />

outside of this room.”<br />

Co-op leaders gathered at the Practitioners Forum in Manchester<br />

on 22 November for a series specialist forums on communications;<br />

finance; governance; HR and membership. This one-day event,<br />

organised by Co-operatives UK and sponsored by Co-op Insurance,<br />

was designed to offer experts advice and peer-to-peer networking.<br />

He believes that in terms of education,<br />

“we haven’t achieved anything until people<br />

leaving business schools know what a co-operative<br />

business is. We need to change how economics<br />

and MBAs are taught. We need to teach how<br />

co-ops are led with the culture and values of the<br />

business in mind.”<br />

He also noted how, according to the UN, the<br />

UK’s government’s austerity measures inflicted<br />

“great misery” on its people. “It’s cruel,” said<br />

Lord Adebowale. “If we’re not part of the solution,<br />

what’s the point? If we can’t provide a solution<br />

for people at the sharp end of the economic scale,<br />

what are we doing?”<br />

He added: “We are standing on the edge of the<br />

future. The energy that should provide us with<br />

should be tremendous, there is no better energy<br />

than the future. The future is precious, it’s not a<br />

game, isn’t not something that can be put to one<br />

side. Success is the difference between a good<br />

society for our kids and business as usual.”<br />

F PPractitioners<br />

Forum <strong>2018</strong><br />

Lord Victor Adebowale<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 25

Successfully engaging a digital audience requires<br />

understanding human behaviour, said Zoe Lawrie<br />

from the Co-operative Bank during a session<br />

on marketing. She offered a series of tips for a<br />

successful digital engagement.<br />

With 90% of adults in UK having an online<br />

presence, going digital can help businesses<br />

listen, respond and engage with their customers<br />

or clients, she said.<br />

Digital marketing has an advantage over<br />

traditional channels because it is not limited<br />

to a geographical area, which means that local<br />

co-ops can run national campaigns and have a<br />

24/7 online presence.<br />

“From a business point of view, social media<br />

is crucial but it is not a shop window – it is an<br />

opportunity to have a dialogue and learn from<br />

people,” said Ms Lawrie.<br />

She argued that the key to a successful approach<br />

is taking into account the fact that people buy<br />

benefits, not products. Digital marketing also<br />

enables co-ops to track the success of their<br />

campaigns, measuring impact with analytics tools<br />

from search engines and social media platforms.<br />

campaign. The Bank does not have a Snapchat<br />

account but spread the message through the filter.<br />


Another marketing challenge is search engine<br />

optimisation. Ms Lawrie advised co-ops, when<br />

considering this, to type searches for the things<br />


New technology has brought new ways to present<br />

information, and Ms Lawrie said co-ops should<br />

produce videos for promotion on social media –<br />

making sure they are pinned posts.<br />

“Video far exceeds engagement more than<br />

anything else – if you are not filming stuff do it,”<br />

she said. It is predicted that 80% of all internet<br />

traffic will be video in the next two years.<br />


Choosing the right platform for each promotion<br />

is crucial, said Ms Lawrie. Engagement on social<br />

media and responding to customers helps to<br />

boost a post shared on Facebook, she said, while<br />

effective use of hashtags and tagging key people<br />

can bring more retweets on Twitter.<br />

“Followers and those commenting on posts<br />

become advocates for you,” she said.<br />

Retailers can also use Instagram to share visual<br />

and user-generated content, which will also attract<br />

bloggers and influencers. LinkedIn can help<br />

co-ops engage more formally with executives,<br />

other businesses or potential employees.<br />

This year, the Co-operative Bank designed<br />

a Snapchat featuring one of the Manchester<br />

bees it had sponsored. The filter was used by<br />

members and employees to promote a marketing<br />

they want to be known for, the things are interested<br />

in, and the names of their competitors – and then<br />

to study the results of the search to inform their<br />

own web presence.<br />

Giving away something for free boosts search<br />

engine results and so does registering the<br />

business’s address on Google.<br />

Another way to maximise online presence is<br />

to encourage members and customers to write<br />

reviews of the business and its services. And<br />

having their business listed on Google will help it<br />

get more reviews and be found more easily.<br />

“You can include photos, how the business<br />

looks, what you sell, add videos and people can<br />

post reviews that you can respond to, thank and<br />

share,” said Ms Lawrie. “You can ask people to<br />

post reviews and give them vouchers.”<br />

She explained that being relevant and<br />

unique, having other websites linking to the<br />

business and being active on social media could<br />

all help bring a business higher up in search<br />

engine results.<br />

Zoe Lawrie,<br />

The Co-operative Bank<br />

26 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>


Blogging is also an important method<br />

of promotion; posts can be used to share skills,<br />

insider tips, member stories and recipes.<br />

“Give something back – don’t start by expecting<br />

members, communities and customers to<br />

contribute and buy something from you. Give<br />

them something first,” said Ms Lawrie.<br />

“Ask your communities and network to write<br />

for you and use those on your blogs. Get in<br />

touch with people who have content and who<br />

share each others. You have a community of like<br />

- minded people. Build it. Exploit it. Use them.<br />

Get involved in videos, share value. Add value to<br />

people’s lives. Remember we want people buying<br />

into better versions than themselves. How can you<br />

help them do that?”.<br />

Delegates were given the chance to view<br />

Co-operatives UK’s draft framework and guidance<br />

around Key Performance Indicators for co-ops.<br />

The document is based on the seven co-op<br />

principles. It takes each principle, identifies a<br />

number of core questions to consider, and sets<br />

out examples of KPIs and how support metrics<br />

can be used.<br />

It aims to help co-ops think about how KPIs<br />

help deliver member value, member voice and<br />

co-operative values. The guidance uses<br />

an open set of questions, which can be used<br />

as a starting point for discussions around core<br />

objectives and how the mission is delivered.<br />

“The framework was designed to be simple<br />

and flexible, bringing together co-op principles and<br />

business principles. It’s a living document waiting<br />

for feedback from members. We are still consulting<br />

with people on it,” said John Sandford chair<br />

of the Co-operative Performance Committee.<br />

“It’s a question-based framework, not aimed<br />

to be prescriptive,” added Shelagh Everett<br />

of Co-operatives UK. “It’s about getting the right<br />

KPIs for your co-op.”<br />

She explained that the context or answer<br />

to questions may differ across co-operatives.<br />

Some KPIs may be relevant to certain types of<br />

co-operatives only but all can be used to prompt<br />

debate, she said.<br />

The framework can be used by all co-ops,<br />

irrespective of type, size or sector and will soon be<br />

available online.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 27



Ask any co-operative business to list some of its<br />

biggest challenges, and more likely than not the<br />

issue of ‘engaging young people’ will come up.<br />

Almost one third of the world's population is under<br />

18. Young people have an influence on decisionmaking<br />

a all levels; they are future members,<br />

customers and colleagues.<br />

At the <strong>2018</strong> Practitioners Forum, organised<br />

by Co-operatives UK, Katie Cosgrave from the<br />

Reclaim Project looked at the issue of engaging<br />

and campaigning with a younger audience.<br />

How do you reach a younger demographic<br />

through campaigning? Who really benefits<br />

from the campaigns? And how can you reach<br />

the ‘unreachable’?<br />

Reclaim is a youth leadership and social change<br />

organisation set up in Moss Side in 2007 to enable<br />

working class young people to be seen, be heard<br />

and lead change. It was started by Ruth Ibegbuna,<br />

a teacher, who was one of many to be angered<br />

by how the shocking murder of 15 year-old Jessie<br />

James in broad daylight was reported. To the<br />

media it was the death of another black youth in<br />

an area rife with crime and drug use.<br />

“The image of young people in Moss Side at the<br />

time was that they were thugs, in gangs, and up<br />

to no good,” said Ms Cosgrave, youth engagement<br />

officer at Reclaim. “Ruth knew differently. She<br />

knew that they were clever, articulate and had<br />

the answers – they just weren’t being asked the<br />

right questions.<br />

“Ruth organised an event for 30 young black<br />

boys from the area who, during their half term,<br />

spent a week talking about stereotyping, racism<br />

and representation. They worked on how to<br />

articulate their problems without sounding like<br />

they were kicking off.” This first event evolved into<br />

a campaign, and then the Reclaim Project.<br />


Presenting alongside Ms Cosgrave was Olivia<br />

Clarke, a 16 year-old student who has worked<br />

with Reclaim for several years. She first attended<br />

Reclaim events as a “shy young girl” – drawn in<br />

by free food.<br />

“It was goodness knows how many chicken<br />

mayos and KFCs later, that I realised that I had<br />

a passion for political change. It was then that I<br />

became an independent young woman!” she said.<br />

“My point is, that in order to engage young<br />

people, you have to give them something –<br />

specifically, something free. Free food or tech –<br />

they’re the two things that young people love the<br />

most. I can almost guarantee that attendance will<br />

be high if there’s a freebie. There will be people<br />

who just come for that freebie – but by the end of<br />

the session you will find a core group of people who<br />

will actually want to work with you on whatever<br />

your campaign is.”<br />


Ms Cosgrave highlighted how it is unlikely that<br />

anyone aged 12 would say they are interested in<br />

politics, for example, “but you just need to ask<br />

different questions”.<br />

“If instead you ask ‘Do you care how you are<br />

educated?’, ‘Do you care how many people are in<br />

your classroom?’ or ‘ Do you care how you get to<br />

school or what the bus journey is like?’ then yes,<br />

they’ll be interested and they’ll have a lot to say.<br />

“It’s about removing the terminology. Young<br />

people just want honesty. Tell them what<br />

you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And keep<br />

them updated.”<br />


Creating a manifesto is another good way to start<br />

a campaign. “It’s a professional document for<br />

young people to refer back to,” said Ms Cosgrave.<br />

Above: Alumni Lead at<br />

Reclaim Project, right,<br />

Olivia Clarke, a student<br />

who works with Reclaim<br />

28 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>


A lot of terms used when talking about young<br />

people are overly negative, said Ms Cosgrave. So<br />

start talking positively about them and represent<br />

them in a way that they would be proud to<br />

be represented.<br />

“When something represents you, you want<br />

to look at it and say ‘Yes, you haven’t done a<br />

disservice to me, that absolutely represents me’.<br />

“If you have boards or are doing consultations,<br />

make sure that everyone there represents a<br />

different part of society, so young people can look<br />

and think ‘Yes, I look like them, I sounds like<br />

them, I could be in those positions’.”<br />

But it’s also important not to stereotype or use<br />

tokenism, added Ms Clarke. “I don’t choose where<br />

I live – that place doesn’t label me. OK I may be<br />

poor financially, but I’m rich in values. I don’t<br />

need money or a postcode to define me.”<br />

She related a story of how a politician,<br />

campaigning in her area, asked if he could get a<br />

picture with her. “I had to tell him: ‘No, I’m not<br />

your little campaign prop’! Just because you pose<br />

with a young person doesn’t mean you benefited<br />

them or worked with them.<br />

“They can see what they’ve stated, what it is that<br />

they want to do.”<br />

Reclaim runs a conference week where young<br />

people are given space to discuss ideas around<br />

leadership, activism, enterprise and community<br />

development – and at the end they create their<br />

own manifesto.<br />

One such manifesto led to the creation of Moss<br />

Side Pride, a 2015 event entirely run by 14 and 15<br />

year olds, which brought 1,500 people together at<br />

a food festival in an effort to celebrate Moss Side’s<br />

diversity and remove some of the stereotypes<br />

people had about the area.<br />


“Companies need to make more of an effort to<br />

get involved with us,” said Ms Clarke. They need<br />

to start engaging with young people, rather than<br />

complain about young people not being engaged.<br />

“You’re not going to find out our opinion without<br />

asking us. So ask us what we feel, what we think<br />

and how we can help. We’re young, but we’re not<br />

stupid. We do have a voice and an opinion. It may<br />

not be as advanced an opinion, but it’s still an<br />

opinion and that opinion matters. We’re not scary,<br />

and we don’t bite either.”<br />


Use a simple campaign that involves an action that<br />

young people can take part in. “The young people<br />

I spoke to before I came here liked Movember, Odd<br />

Sock Day (for bullying), no-make-up selfies and<br />

the polished man campaign [which challenges<br />

men (and women) to paint one nail and raise<br />

funds and awareness for children affected by<br />

violence globally] as they were something they<br />

could do,” said Ms Cosgrave. “You have to take<br />

part physically – then they start conversations.”<br />


“Social media is often shown in a negative light,”<br />

said Ms Clarke. “The benefits are never really<br />

talked about – like how it educates people without<br />

realising it.<br />

“Social media, to a certain extent, is the only<br />

education working class people get, especially<br />

politically. It’s broken down and presented on<br />

a platform that is accessible to everyone from<br />

all walks of life. Using social media to engage<br />

young people automatically shows them that<br />

you’re willing to engage with them in their own<br />

spaces. And those spaces to talk can start with<br />

a hashtag.”<br />

Hear more from Katie<br />

on our Meet feature<br />

on page 22-23<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 29

Engagement and growth:<br />

Lessons from Outlandish<br />

As worker co-ops develop or grow, what challenges can this present in terms of engaging with members or<br />

clients, to ensure that its founding co-op ethos is effectively communicated and maintained? We spoke to<br />

Kayleigh Walsh from Outlandish – a co-op of collaborators and co-owners who build digital applications,<br />

which is one of the rising stars of a new generation of young co-operatives.<br />

30 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

Has the growth of Outlandish made<br />

engagement with members more difficult?<br />

We haven't ever been huge, but last year we did<br />

get to about 30 people invoicing us, which is the<br />

biggest we've been. It did change the feel of the<br />

co-op – there were more people because we had<br />

a lot of work on, which is good! But it also means<br />

there was a bit less familiarity among the team,<br />

and our culture is really important to us. We think<br />

there's a lot of trust required in a worker co-op,<br />

and inevitably when there are more people, the<br />

environment changes slightly.<br />

In terms of engagement with members, it hasn't<br />

really affected us because at most there have<br />

only been nine, but we recognise that Outlandish<br />

relies on more than just nine people to be the<br />

success that we are today.<br />

The point here is that we don't want to grow,<br />

we just want to work with nice people and deliver<br />

things that they need which contribute positively<br />

to the world. That's our aim, rather than growth<br />

or hitting specific financial targets or taking on<br />

Google. It's just not our bag.<br />

What practical challenges have there been?<br />

How have these been dealt with?<br />

As a small business, we need to be efficient and<br />

capable of delivering more work when there is<br />

demand. Our business structure means that we're<br />

three concentric circles consisting of freelancers<br />

and members, so when we need to scale up,<br />

we can call on people with relevant skills from<br />

our network who have the opportunity to work<br />

with us over the short or long term.<br />

We've experienced the challenge of having<br />

more work on than the team are capable of<br />

delivering, so in response to that, we set up<br />

CoTech – a network of digital co-ops in the UK.<br />

It covers more or less everything you need for a<br />

successful digital project, and it means that we<br />

can scale up without the overhead of recruitment<br />

and deliver high quality and valuable work<br />

through collaborating with other experienced<br />

co-ops. In turn we're supporting the longevity<br />

of other digital co-ops, because we're sharing<br />

the work and practising collaboration and skill<br />

sharing, as well as showing solidarity.<br />

Lots of people assume that we want to be really<br />

big, but we don't. We have an agreement that<br />

we won't be more than 20 members. We think<br />

there's a lot to be said for smaller co-ops with<br />

defined expertise who are open to collaboration,<br />

"We just want to work with nice people<br />

and deliver things that they need which<br />

contribute positively to the world. That's our<br />

aim, rather than growth or hitting specific<br />

financial targets or taking on Google.<br />

It's just not our bag."<br />

rather than a huge organisation that seems to do<br />

everything ... albeit not very efficiently. This also<br />

means that we offer high value and quality work<br />

to our clients i.e. we're cheaper than corporate<br />

agencies because of the reduced overhead and<br />

profit extraction, which is really important<br />

to us (and really, that should be what every<br />

organisation aims to do).<br />

Have new measures been put in place as<br />

Outlandish gets bigger to maintain the close<br />

relationship with its workers (and, indeed,<br />

its members?)<br />

We've always been quite social, and have a<br />

shared lunch paid by Outlandish every Tuesday<br />

and Thursday to make sure that we look after<br />

the human side of our co-op. Outlandish started<br />

around a kitchen table so even though we're in an<br />

office, we still like to have a good meal and chat.<br />

We wholeheartedly understand and value<br />

the importance of culture, so we've invested<br />

a lot of time and money into training around<br />

communication, sociocracy and feeling<br />

empowered to speak up when things aren't<br />

right. We know that there's no point delivering<br />

work and focusing on commercial projects if<br />

we're not taking care of the internal well-being<br />

and happiness of our workers - without them<br />

Outlandish doesn't exist.<br />

With that being said, l don't want to make it<br />

sound easy or perfect. It's not, but the point is that<br />

we're committed to making it better because we<br />

all know it's worth it.<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 31

Reaching out to baby boomers<br />

to leave a co-op legacy<br />

The baby boomer generation is reaching<br />

retirement age – and with a huge number of<br />

business owners in their ranks, there is an<br />

opportunity for the employee-ownership sector to<br />

win new converts.<br />

In the UK, the question of what happens when<br />

these firms transfer ownership has already<br />

caught the attention of the co-op and employee<br />

ownership sectors. Encouraging the switch to<br />

worker control has been highlighted as a route<br />

towards doubling the size of the UK co-op sector,<br />

a target set by the Co-operative Party.<br />

In an independent report commissioned by<br />

the Party, the New Economics Foundation said:<br />

“There are around 120,000 family-run small<br />

and medium enterprises in the UK expected to<br />

undergo a transfer of ownership in the next<br />

three years. If just 5% of these businesses were<br />

supported to make the transition to employee<br />

ownership or one of the other mutual or<br />

co‐operative models available in the UK, then<br />

the number of entities in the sector would double.”<br />

So how can the movement engage with<br />

businesses to encourage this process?<br />

In the USA, Evergreen Co-operatives, with<br />

strategic advice from Democracy Collaborative,<br />

has launched an initiative to drive a new wave<br />

of business transitions. A network of co-ops,<br />

Evergreen is a key player in the Cleveland<br />

model which uses co-op ideas to build local<br />

democratic economies, which helped inspire the<br />

co-op councils movement in Britain. Democracy<br />

Collaborative is a nonprofit working on building<br />

community wealth.<br />

Evergreen’s new project, the Fund for Employee<br />

Ownership, will purchase businesses in its home<br />

state, Ohio, for conversion to worker-ownership.<br />

The team says the scheme offers a better<br />

alternative to the current situation, where<br />

businesses are often bought out by private equity<br />

firms, who then cut jobs or move them overseas<br />

or out of state.<br />

The fund is also looking at industries that<br />

employ the workers Evergreen and Democracy<br />

Collaborative want to target – those on low<br />

incomes or facing barriers to employment.<br />

Evergreen’s executive vice president Brett<br />

Jones, who is director of the fund, says: “We are<br />

just getting started but we are really optimistic<br />

about our ability to acquire firms in Cleveland<br />

that would be a great fit to convert to employeeowned.<br />

And we’re also optimistic about our<br />

ability to support those businesses to succeed<br />

and grow.<br />

“Key to our success will be identifying<br />

partners who can help us connect with local<br />

business owners”.<br />

Part of this engagement process is making<br />

business owners a positive offer. Jessica Rose,<br />

director of employee ownership programs at<br />

Democracy Collaborative, told business website<br />

Fast Company: “What we need to do is leverage<br />

One of Evergreen’s<br />

co-op enterprises in<br />

Cleveland, Ohio<br />

32 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

Evergreen wants to<br />

encourage a new wave<br />

of worker-owned<br />

businesses<br />

mission-driven capital that can offer business<br />

owners an experience that’s as frictionless as any<br />

other exit option they have available to them.”<br />

But can this model be used to spread the worker<br />

-ownership message elsewhere? Brad Jones says<br />

the fund is trying to demonstrate “a new way for<br />

impact capital to be put to use. The next few years<br />

will be focused on executing our strategy so one<br />

day perhaps the model can be replicated.”<br />

Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives<br />

UK, says: “Here is a programme that is embedded<br />

in local networks in the city and state. Could<br />

we see cities in the UK operate in as proactive a<br />

way? If the fund can prove that it pays for itself<br />

over time, the wider benefits in terms of the local<br />

economy can be considerable.”<br />

Deb Oxley, chief executive of the Employee<br />

Ownership Association, called the fund “a very<br />

exciting route to support regional economic<br />

resilience”, adding: “As the UK looks for new<br />

ways to protect jobs and stimulate regional<br />

productivity, while at the same time socialising<br />

capital, we need policy makers and politicians<br />

to be more ambitious and brave. In this regards,<br />

the UK could learn important lessons from<br />

the USA.”<br />

Others are more cautious. Cath Muller from<br />

Co-operative Business Consultants suggested<br />

economic democracy would be better improved<br />

if the fund promoted worker co-ops, and pointed<br />

to a report for New York community development<br />

group The Pinkerton Foundation by Steven<br />

Dawson, which warned against “over-promise”<br />

by social enterprise investments.<br />

“After six years and promises of creating 5,000<br />

jobs, the three Evergreen Co-operative Enterprises<br />

in inner-city Cleveland today employ in total<br />

fewer than 150 workers – despite investing more<br />

than $17m in construction costs alone” wrote<br />

Dawson in February 2017; he pointed to similar<br />

problems in projects run by other cities.<br />

Ms Muller added: “That said, of course there’s<br />

room here to take this proactive approach ...<br />

Anyone providing large funds to further any level<br />

of worker agency is a great thing, even if I think<br />

there are more ambitious things that could be<br />

done with that amount of money.”<br />

“What we need to do<br />

is leverage mission<br />

-driven capital that can<br />

offer business owners<br />

an experience that’s as<br />

frictionless as any other<br />

exit option they have<br />

available to them”<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 33

Mutualising public services: How do<br />

we engage with workers and the public?<br />

Austerity has impacted massively on local government, decimating frontline services across the country,<br />

with councils facing more cuts to funding and worsening financial challenges<br />

Against this bleak backdrop, local authorities<br />

are fighting back and increasingly recognising<br />

that mutual and co-operative ways of working<br />

can help rebuild communities disheartened<br />

and demoralised by years of cuts. Preston City<br />

Council led the way, supporting a wide range<br />

of co-operative enterprises built around the<br />

city’s anchor institutions – including the county<br />

constabulary, a public sector housing association,<br />

colleges and hospitals.<br />

Council leaders also decided to buy goods and<br />

services locally to stop 61% of their procurement<br />

budget being spent outside of the Lancashire<br />

economy. In the process, the town’s fortunes<br />

have been turned around and the results are<br />

inspiring other local authorities to go back to their<br />

roots engaging local communities.<br />

Preston is also a key player in the Co-operative<br />

Councils Innovations Network (CCIN), which<br />

is offering an alternative approach to<br />

delivering services, using co-operative values<br />

and principles.<br />

It comprises 23 councils across the UK, from<br />

Bassetlaw to Bristol, which have committed<br />

themselves to finding better ways of working for<br />

and with local people. Members share the belief<br />

that working co-operatively with communities<br />

holds the key to tackling today’s challenges<br />

– replacing traditional models of top-down<br />

governance and service delivery with local<br />

leadership, built on the founding traditions of the<br />

co-operative movement.<br />

Ethical expertise is provided by its Values and<br />

Principles Board, which includes representatives<br />

from the Co-op Party, Co-operatives UK, the<br />

Co-operative College and Co-op Press.<br />

Director of communications Nicola Huckerby<br />

says there has been a surge of interest in the last<br />

12 months.<br />

“This year, our annual conference in October<br />

attracted a lot more council leaders, MPs,<br />

peers and council officers who want to help.<br />

Councils need to join to help them identify<br />

solutions to the challenges they are facing with<br />

ever-reducing budgets.<br />

“More and more councils are coming forward<br />

and saying let’s have a conversation – and we<br />

are more than twice the size we were at the<br />

Key Figures<br />

CCIN<br />

comprises of<br />

23<br />

Councils<br />

<br />

This figure has<br />

increased by<br />

11<br />

since the<br />

beginning of 2017<br />

<br />

34 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

eginning of 2017 with new affiliates and 11<br />

associated member councils. This year we went<br />

over to Brussels to meet the president and director<br />

general of the ICA and were at the autumn<br />

political conferences.”<br />

CCIN has just launched a new round of Policy<br />

Lab funding whereby members put forward their<br />

ideas for partnership projects they would like to<br />

see delivered in 2019/20 with £10,000 going to the<br />

lucky recipients.<br />

“Ordinary members are taking back ideas<br />

wanting to share with their councils. It resonates<br />

very well with co-operative ethics and values. The<br />

principle of the network is investing to save and<br />

looking at delivering services more effectively<br />

and with social value. Whether tackling food<br />

poverty, asset transfers or procuring ethically it is<br />

about how do you deliver services for the benefit<br />

of residents. Different authorities have lessons<br />

we can learn so rather than starting a journey on<br />

our own we are sharing information.”<br />

The network’s list of co-operatively led projects<br />

is a very long one. It includes CATERed, a<br />

co-operative trading company jointly owned<br />

by 67 local schools and Plymouth City Council,<br />

providing high quality school food to children<br />

“Ordinary members are<br />

taking back ideas wanting<br />

to share with their councils.<br />

It resonates very well with<br />

co-operative ethics and<br />

values. The principle of the<br />

network is investing to save<br />

and looking at delivering<br />

services more effectively and<br />

with social value”<br />

be provided more appropriately locally, the<br />

council, health care trust and parents/carers<br />

began to work on a programme to commission<br />

the scheme.<br />

“The parents/carers have been actively<br />

and equally involved throughout the process,<br />

playing an active role in tendering for the scheme.<br />

They have worked with the successful tenderers,<br />

identifying an appropriate site and working on the<br />

and young people across the city not just in school<br />

time but in vacation periods to alleviate holiday<br />

hunger and food poverty.<br />

In Rochdale, Parent Carers Voice, an<br />

independent group of parents of children with<br />

disabilities, is working with council officers to<br />

deliver better services.<br />

Their latest project is a new independent living<br />

facility for young people with autism.<br />

Spokeswoman Helen Walton said: “There is<br />

currently no provision locally for these young<br />

people. Many of them live in out of borough<br />

placements, far from families, friends and<br />

communities and at considerable expense to<br />

the local authority. Recognising provision could<br />

design and layout speaking with local residents<br />

at consultation events and at planning<br />

committees to ensure young peoples’ voices<br />

were heard.”<br />

The development, set to open in summer 2019,<br />

will be named Pioneer Fields, acknowledging<br />

Rochdale’s place in the history of co-operation<br />

and the ongoing approach designed to meet<br />

young people’s needs. It will provide 15 highquality<br />

bungalows with carer accommodation,<br />

communal social space, a café, small farm and<br />

horticultural facilities – all purpose-built to meet<br />

individual needs.<br />

Knowsley Council and its partners are set<br />

to launch a six-month period of engagement<br />

Facing page: Nicola<br />

Huckerby of CCIN<br />

with Cllr Liam<br />

O’Rourke from<br />

Rochdale Borough<br />

Council and Slough<br />

MP Tan Dhesi<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 35

Stevenage community safety manager Sarah<br />

Pateman said: “We look at it more from the victim’s<br />

perspective. We are involving people, empowering<br />

them to become survivors and asking them what<br />

their preferred option is. By working together in<br />

this co-operative way we can help victims, families<br />

and our partners to offer a joined-up approach<br />

to tackling domestic abuse and helping to keep<br />

victims safe.”<br />

Cllr Paul Stewart from<br />

Sunderland Council<br />

“It is early days but a resolution is going to<br />

council this month which will hopefully give<br />

me authority to plan a more formal<br />

community wealth building programme,<br />

helping us further develop our existing<br />

co-ops and build support for them”<br />

with the community, after the council’s cabinet<br />

agreed a new approach to planning for the future.<br />

The council will work with residents, businesses<br />

and partners to help shape what kind of place<br />

Knowsley will be in 2030, identifying ways to<br />

achieve that vision, focusing on the physical<br />

environment but also covering important issues<br />

such as educational attainment, job creation<br />

and health of the borough’s residents. The new<br />

long-term strategy for Knowsley, which will be<br />

developed over the next 18 months, will launch in<br />

2020 and run until 2030.<br />

Stevenage Against Domestic Abuse has<br />

developed a strategic and co-ordinated approach<br />

to tackling and reducing domestic abuse working<br />

with internal and external partners, putting<br />

the victim and their family at the heart of the<br />

project and working co-operatively to involve<br />

them in decision making.<br />

The service is believed to the first in the<br />

country that encourages organisations to refer<br />

victims and their families a Safe Space provided<br />

by the council to stay for up to seven nights<br />

while they make decisions on their future.<br />

It encourages and empowers victims and<br />

survivors and has so far supported 85<br />

victims of domestic abuse with input<br />

from independent domestic violence<br />

advisors, children’s services, the mental<br />

health team, health visitors and the police.<br />

The SADA team also includes the Domestic<br />

Abuse Forum, a survivors group that informs<br />

direction of the service and delivers training<br />

to neighbouring local authorities and<br />

partner agencies.<br />

New initiatives in Sunderland include REuse<br />

– a project working with vulnerable groups and<br />

local charities which uses the council’s IT system<br />

to recycle old furniture/equipment .<br />

The council also supports Bishopwearmouth<br />

Co-operative Nursery, which delivers a wide<br />

range of professional horticultural and floristry<br />

services to customers across the North East.<br />

All profits are invested into the company to<br />

provide paid employment, education, training<br />

36 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

and work-based placements for vulnerable<br />

adults with learning or physical disabilities.<br />

The co-operative is in the process of opening a<br />

café on site in spring next year.<br />

Cabinet secretary Paul Stewart, a Labour<br />

/Co-op councillor who is in charge of the council’s<br />

finance and corporate services, is enthusiastic<br />

about all these initiatives. A founder member of<br />

the CCIN, he now serves on its executive and is<br />

optimistic about what can be done despite the<br />

fact Sunderland alone has lost £290m in central<br />

government funding since 2010.<br />

“We are all under a lot of pressure however the<br />

network helps us promote our ideas and values as<br />

best we can. All our members have a constitution<br />

which says we are co-op councils trying to pursue<br />

co-op values. Preston Council is a key member<br />

of the network and its leadership have been<br />

very helpful sharing their experiences.<br />

“Here in Sunderland we are in the process<br />

of putting a programme together to implement<br />

an ethical procurement system and looking at<br />

how we can support local businesses more. In<br />

Sunderland 30 per cent of our money is already<br />

spent here and two-thirds in Northern region. We<br />

are looking to expand that further by reducing<br />

the size of contracts as the larger the contract the<br />

more likely it is to be a national company.”<br />

The Council is also setting up a Co-operative<br />

Development Fund to help set new up co-ops or<br />

expand existing ones.<br />

“It is early days but a resolution is going to<br />

council this month which will hopefully give<br />

me authority to plan a more formal Community<br />

Wealth building programme helping us further<br />

develop our existing co-ops and build support<br />

for them .<br />

“In Sunderland low pay affects 25% of the<br />

workforce and we want to ensure that local<br />

employees are paid a decent Living Wage<br />

but it is going to take time because of the<br />

financial climate. It is a long-term project – however<br />

it is the right thing to do if you genuinely believe as<br />

a council you should be ensuring where you have<br />

ability to influence other employers. By trying to<br />

move things forward we can increase the pace<br />

at which we move towards further development<br />

of co-operatives. The important thing is<br />

to promote the agenda ensuring you are open and<br />

honest as a council.”<br />

August this year saw the publication of the<br />

Social Housing Green Paper. Almost 1,000 tenants<br />

shared their views with ministers at 14 events<br />

“By working together we provide better places for our<br />

members, tenants and employees to live and work. Drawing<br />

on the area’s rich co-operative heritage, our pioneering model<br />

places members at the heart of decision-making, allowing<br />

everyone to enjoy a sense of security and belonging in places<br />

we make great together”<br />

across the country, with over 7,000 submitting<br />

opinions, issues and concerns online as the<br />

government aimed to re-balance the relationship<br />

between tenants and landlords in the wake of the<br />

fire at Grenfell Tower,<br />

One way forward has already been pioneered<br />

by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, the UK’s first<br />

tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing<br />

society, with over 13,000 homes in its remit.<br />

RBH became a mutual in 2013 following a<br />

standard stock transfer from the council in<br />

2012. It now has 5490 tenant members and 461<br />

employee members .<br />

Spokesman Iain Lindley says their model is key<br />

to engaging tenants and employees and giving<br />

them an extra stake in the society and its future.<br />

“I think people feel they have a better influence<br />

and they feel a bit closer to the decision making<br />

process. You have not got that adversarial<br />

situation where it is them and us. Our tenant<br />

and employee members elect the people who<br />

sit on our representative body which appoints<br />

non-executive directors and six of the eight<br />

board members.<br />

“We are trying to do things together with<br />

tenants and get them involved as much as we<br />

can as an integral part of the decision-making<br />

process. Our tenants have the opportunity to<br />

make decisions and influence things in a way<br />

they did not before.”<br />

Unlike other housing associations, RBH is<br />

very much about keeping things local, he adds.<br />

“We are committed and focused on Rochdale.<br />

Infomation:<br />

£290m<br />

cut in central<br />

government funding<br />

since<br />

<br />

2010<br />

In Sunderland<br />

<br />

30%<br />

of money in<br />

Sunderland is<br />

spent in the<br />

area with –<br />

<br />

2/3<br />

spent in the<br />

northern region<br />

<br />

Low pay affects<br />

25%<br />

of the<br />

workforce<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 37

I do not think we will be an enormous developer<br />

like other housing associations. We have just<br />

approved our new corporate strategy, our<br />

tenant members and employee members are<br />

integral to that and have the final sign-off. It has<br />

been developed together and not imposed by<br />

a management team.<br />

“By working together we provide better places<br />

for our members, tenants and employees to live<br />

and work. Drawing on the area’s rich co-operative<br />

heritage, our pioneering model places members<br />

at the heart of decision-making, allowing<br />

everyone to enjoy a sense of security and<br />

belonging in places we make great together.”<br />

A meeting at Merthyr<br />

Valleys Homes<br />

“Member-owned housing is still not recognised as a new<br />

approach to housing but post-Grenfell this is an approach<br />

which puts tenants right at the heart of the organisation”<br />

In May 2016 Merthyr Valleys Homes (MVH)<br />

became the first in Wales to allow tenants<br />

and employees the opportunity to become a<br />

member, and own a share in the organisation.<br />

First established in 2009, it currently owns and<br />

manages over 4,200 homes across the borough.<br />

Outgoing CEO Mike Owen explains the<br />

transition: “Our first five years were dedicated<br />

to achieving promises made to tenants upon<br />

transfer, and also achieving our Welsh Housing<br />

Quality Standard targets. In 2014, we started to<br />

look at the future of our organisation, and how we<br />

them to become members, giving them a<br />

real say, and playing an important role in<br />

decision making. Under the old model, tenants<br />

found they could not really be representatives<br />

because they had to be company directors and<br />

there was no way to go back to constituents and<br />

be accountable.<br />

“We decided we really needed to have a<br />

re-think of our position when there was a very<br />

big issue around the TV show Skint, filmed in<br />

Merthyr Tydfil. We sat back and said why have<br />

these people gone on TV and trashed their own<br />

Merthyr Valleys<br />

Homes now owns and<br />

manages more than<br />

4,200 homes<br />

wanted the organisation to develop in the coming<br />

years. We always listened to and involved our<br />

tenants and employees, but our board wanted<br />

to take this a step further and opted to develop<br />

a new governance model where we could<br />

empower our tenants and employees by allowing<br />

community and how far are they from any power<br />

and responsibility for communities? Maybe we<br />

ought to rethink the power relationship.<br />

“We decided to set up a commission with<br />

tenant and councillor reps from the community.<br />

We started to explore different models and went<br />

38 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

to mutual pretty quickly. Everyone liked this idea<br />

of partnership between tenants and employees. It<br />

was then a case of how it would work and operate.<br />

The council leader was really supportive and all<br />

33 councillors voted in favour of change. We had a<br />

good momentum and moved on from there.”<br />

MVH is now recruiting a new CEO and starting<br />

a young members’ group, added Mr Owen.<br />

“The most subtle change has been that the<br />

board are not at the top of the pyramid. They<br />

see themselves as accountable to the democratic<br />

body who appoint them. We had an AGM three<br />

weeks ago which was really well attended.<br />

Our head office is in the middle of an estate, we<br />

have a community zone bringing all providers in<br />

together making sure what we do fits our mutual<br />

values. We have been braver in our approach<br />

to how we deal with stuff like new build.<br />

Constitutionally we would only build houses in<br />

Merthyr and we would not be taken over without<br />

the consent of tenants and employees. The people<br />

of Merthyr built these houses and should stay<br />

in control.”<br />

Cliff Mills, principal associate at Mutuo,<br />

specialises in corporate governance and<br />

constitutional advice in the establishment and<br />

running of co-op, mutual and membership-based<br />

organisations. He agrees the housing model<br />

adopted in Rochdale and Merthyr, which he<br />

helped to develop, offers real opportunities for<br />

better engagement although they are currently<br />

the only two examples of tenant and employee<br />

based membership. There are other examples in<br />

England and Wales with just tenant members.<br />

“The most subtle change which I see<br />

has been that the board are not at the<br />

top of the pyramid. They see themselves<br />

as accountable to the democratic body<br />

who appoint them”<br />

“Member-owned housing is still not widely<br />

recognised as a mainstream approach in social<br />

housing, but post-Grenfell this is an approach<br />

which deserves to be more widely explored as it<br />

puts tenants right at the heart of the organisation.<br />

“Rochdale and Merthyr became mutuals for<br />

different reasons. In Rochdale’s case it followed a<br />

review of future finances and a desire to increase<br />

the involvement of tenants and employees.<br />

It is very different from a traditional housing<br />

association and operates in a radically different<br />

way . Their first corporate strategy as a mutual is a<br />

joint piece of work involving tenants, employees,<br />

the representative body and the board.<br />

“Both Merthyr and Rochdale are very focussed<br />

on their locality, rather than having ambitions to<br />

expand. What they are about is improving their<br />

local community. Merthyr adopted this approach<br />

a few years after RBH, but they are already doing<br />

some very significant things differently in their<br />

locality, and have a very similar approach to RBH<br />

in terms of ownership and governance. What both<br />

do is provide a mechanism to enable the housing<br />

assets and services to work for the benefit of the<br />

local community.<br />

“In this approach, the two groups most affected<br />

by the business (those using the service, and those<br />

delivering it) are part of the collective endeavour.<br />

Instead of being ‘done to’ they are ‘a part of’<br />

and co-own the organisation. In traditional<br />

housing associations priorities are normally set<br />

by management but at RBH and Merthyr tenants<br />

and employees really influence decision-making<br />

and so the organisations have different priorities.<br />

You are not suddenly going to change the nature<br />

of the services overnight but the difference is that<br />

tenants and employees can be fully engaged in<br />

making them successful. Tensions can be worked<br />

out in dialogue between groups.<br />

“It is all about transferring power and you<br />

need an executive team who understand that.<br />

We are always talking to CEOs and different<br />

organisations which might be interested in this<br />

approach. It is important to make the concept as<br />

widely known as possible, and so that people can<br />

see that this model is an effective way of meeting<br />

today’s big challenges.”<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 39

Saskatoon dispute shows colleague<br />

engagement doesn't always run smooth<br />

In Saskatchewan, a province of western Canada,<br />

the Saskatoon Co-op is currently in dispute with<br />

its workforce over pay.<br />

Workers belonging to United Food and<br />

Commercial Workers (UFCW) have taken to the<br />

picket lines over a two-tiered pay deal, which has<br />

introduced a lower wage scale for new hirings.<br />

A group of members has handed in a petition<br />

calling for the removal of the nine directors who<br />

oversee managers of the grocery, fuel, liquor, farm<br />

supply and hardware retail outlets.<br />

In response, chief executive Grant Wicks has<br />

published an open letter to members which said:<br />

“We have full confidence in our board to make<br />

decisions that are in the best interests of our<br />

members and our co-op.<br />

“We know this because you elected them.<br />

Your local co-op board isn’t meant to represent<br />

any particular group or agenda – it’s meant to<br />

represent our members and our community.<br />

That’s part of what makes Saskatoon Co-op<br />

a different kind of business.”<br />

He said current employees were being offered<br />

raises, while new recruits were being offered<br />

competitive rates.<br />

“What we’re offering is not new,” he wrote.<br />

“UFCW has agreed to adjusted wage scales for new<br />

employees with many of our competitors. This is<br />

not new to the retail industry and is not unique to<br />

our offer. It’s been in place with our competitors<br />

and their UFCW agreements for years.”<br />

And in a press interview, he added that the<br />

co-op pays its workers as much as 30% more than<br />

its competitors, putting “the long-term financial<br />

viability of our organization at stake”.<br />

“If something isn’t done about it, perhaps<br />

we would end up in a situation where we<br />

couldn’t offer goods and services to any of our<br />

members,” he said.<br />

The co-op says the two-tier pay system is a retail<br />

industry standard and it is continuing to negotiate<br />

with the union.<br />

It adds: “Throughout negotiations, we’ve made<br />

offers that allow our local Co-op to compete<br />

against national companies, while still providing<br />

wages for both current and new employees that, in<br />

most cases, lead amongst our national competitors<br />

in Saskatoon.<br />

“We care for our employees and want to get back<br />

to serving Saskatoon and nearby communities<br />

as soon as we can. Because this is an extremely<br />

stressful time for everyone, we’re keeping our<br />

Employee Family Assistance<br />

Program open for all employees,<br />

including those still working and<br />

those on the picket line.”<br />

But UFCW Local 1400 president<br />

Norm Neault said the co-op’s recent<br />

growth and profitability suggest it<br />

should not cut the earning potential<br />

of new workers.<br />

“At the end of the day, if you truly<br />

believe that there’s something that is<br />

worth fighting for, you will stand up<br />

for it,” he told reporters.<br />

The dispute show that a<br />

co-operative model on its own does<br />

not guarantee smooth, widespread<br />

positive colleague engagement – and<br />

cannot prevent disputes breaking<br />

out. So how should the movement<br />

handle them?<br />

Victoria Morris, of sector body<br />

the Saskatchewan Co-operative<br />

Association, says her organisation<br />

would not get involved in such cases,<br />

“as the union and co-op management<br />

have an established process to<br />

negotiate and resolve disputes”.<br />

She adds: “In light of that, likely<br />

the only potential place we would<br />

provide some information would<br />

be if either the members or board<br />

of directors wanted clarification<br />

regarding what actions members<br />

can take if they don’t agree with the<br />

board of directors, or if the board<br />

of directors wanted clarification<br />

on their roles and responsibilities,<br />

or the process to hear and act upon<br />

member concerns.”<br />

In terms of finding a more<br />

“co-oppy” approach to dispute<br />

resolution, she says: “I have seen<br />

some co-operatives – that have<br />

faced tough situations with their<br />

employees and members, for<br />

instance when downsizing or closing<br />

locations – make a substantive effort<br />

to take a values-based approach to<br />

moving forward.”<br />

She says this means boards<br />

of directors and management<br />

actively discussing how to act<br />

more ‘co-oppy’, with both board<br />

and management taking action<br />

to embody the approach “to ensure<br />

that members and employees are<br />

being cared for and provided with<br />

the best possible transition to<br />

wherever their co-operative is<br />

heading next, and both board<br />

and management taking action to<br />

embody this approach.”<br />

40 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

A low-cost ownership oasis in<br />

a desert of unaffordable homes<br />

A look at Dos Pinos Housing Cooperative, a leading example of California’s limited-equity<br />

co-operative model, where costs are 50% lower than the average market-rate apartment<br />

Davis, California, a university town with over<br />

70,000 residents, had only 13 vacant marketrate<br />

apartments to rent as of December 2017.<br />

That’s a vacancy rate of 0.2%, according to an<br />

annual University of California–Davis study<br />

of the housing market. The study puts the average<br />

rent for a three-bedroom unit in 2017 at $2,388.<br />

Davis is in Yolo County, which had a 2017<br />

area median income of $76,900 for a fourperson<br />

household. Using the 30% of-income<br />

affordability standard, a median-income<br />

family of four living in an average market-rate<br />

apartment in Davis is paying $5,592 per year more<br />

than they can afford.<br />

There is, however, one place in Davis where a<br />

median-income family of four is paying much less:<br />

Dos Pinos Housing Cooperative, the only limitedequity<br />

housing co-op in Davis. A limited-equity<br />

co-op (LEHC) is designed to preserve affordability<br />

for low- and moderate-income households.<br />

Members purchase shares in the co-op that<br />

entitle them to live in one of the units and have<br />

a vote in the governance and management<br />

of the building. Units have restricted resale<br />

values and many have income limits for<br />

potential members, who pay monthly fees,<br />

or carrying charges, to cover their share<br />

of the co-op’s expenses.<br />

The monthly carrying charges to live in one<br />

of the 26 three-bedroom apartments in the Dos<br />

Pinos Housing co-op, as of December 2017, were<br />

$1,165. That’s a saving of $14,676 per year over<br />

the average market rent. A household in one of<br />

the 28 two-bedroom apartments had annual<br />

savings of $9,036, while a household in one<br />

of the six one-bedroom apartments had annual<br />

savings of $7,452.<br />

Buying a co-op is more affordable than buying<br />

a house in the city, where the average asking price<br />

of a single-family home is $632,000. The market<br />

is so hot that most sales are paid in cash, and if<br />

not, a down payment of at least 20% ($120,000<br />

minimum) is required. A median-income family<br />

of four in Davis cannot purchase the average<br />

home on the market.<br />

I helped create and finance the Dos Pinos<br />

Co-op and have been studying the cost of living<br />

there since 1985. It wasn’t always the most<br />

affordable place to live in town. In 1985, the<br />

co-op started at a monthly cost above the area’s<br />

average rent because it was newly built. However,<br />

“Because no one has pocketed the increased value of the<br />

building and land (including individual co-op members),<br />

30 years later the co-op’s monthly costs are 50%<br />

lower than the average market rate apartment”<br />

the cost of buying shares in the co-op for a threebedroom<br />

unit at that time was $4,880, which was<br />

much less than buying a house in Davis, which<br />

at the time was around $150,000. Many members<br />

wanted to live in a co-op community, as well.<br />

Because no one has pocketed the increased<br />

value of the building and land (including<br />

individual co-op members), 30 years later the<br />

co-op’s monthly costs are 50% lower than the<br />

average market rate apartment. The co-op has<br />

not imposed income limits on who can live<br />

there, and it has a three-year closed wait list.<br />

For the past two decades, Davis’s hot housing<br />

market has had an extremely low rental vacancy<br />

rate. This lack of supply has pushed up rental rates.<br />

The co-op, on the other hand, has shown that it<br />

has substantially increased affordability. In 2017,<br />

a family of four needed to earn only 59% of the<br />

area median income to afford a three-bedroom<br />

apartment at the co-op – down from 111% in 1985.<br />

Over time, families need less and less income to<br />

afford to live at Dos Pinos. The co-op requires<br />

people moving in to have a monthly household<br />

Key Figures<br />

$76,900<br />

Median income<br />

for four-person<br />

household<br />

<br />

Davis residents<br />

are paying<br />

$5,592<br />

more than they<br />

can afford<br />

<br />

$1,165<br />

Monthly carrying<br />

charges to live<br />

Pinos Housing<br />

Co-operative<br />

<br />

12.5%<br />

on very low<br />

income<br />

&<br />

25%<br />

on low<br />

income<br />

42 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

gross income that is equal to or greater than<br />

2.5 times the monthly assessment. By this<br />

standard, a very-low-income family of four in Yolo<br />

County is eligible to move into the co-op. There is<br />

no other home ownership model in Yolo County<br />

affordable to that same family. Households<br />

moving in recently have been of mixed incomes:<br />

12.5% very low income, 25% low income, and 25%<br />

moderate income.<br />

The co-op has received no subsidy at any<br />

time in its history. It bought the land at market<br />

value and erected the buildings at market value.<br />

Annually the co-op pays more than $30,000 in<br />

local property taxes, just like the market-rate<br />

apartment complex across the road.<br />

No co-op apartment at Dos Pinos has ever been<br />

foreclosed, and in 32 years, only one member has<br />

been evicted. The vacancy rate is always zero<br />

and the vacancy reserve is never used. Since<br />

1986, there has always been a waiting list for<br />

apartments at the co-op.<br />

Dos Pinos holds an additional appeal for<br />

families. Because state law requires owner<br />

occupancy in an LEHC, all households living at<br />

Dos Pinos must be permanent Davis residents.<br />

Therefore, there are no student households at<br />

Dos Pinos. Many families would prefer familyoriented<br />

complexes, but if you are renting, that is<br />

not an option in Davis, outside of the co-op.<br />

Fewer than 50 apartment-type limited-equity<br />

housing co-ops have been developed in California<br />

under the LEHC laws, mostly between 1980 and<br />

1990, when the National Cooperative Bank was<br />

able to partner with programmes of the state of<br />

California that also supported the development<br />

of limited-equity co-op housing. After 1990,<br />

most jurisdictions and nonprofits in California<br />

moved to use their limited resources to develop<br />

affordable rental housing with tax credits as the<br />

key financing tool. The normal limited-equity<br />

housing co-operative is not eligible to use tax<br />

credits so interest petered out.<br />

A unique aspect of an LEHC is that the<br />

appreciated value of the housing is all retained<br />

in the co-op and the community. When a member<br />

leaves, the only economic transaction is what was<br />

initially paid for the unit plus interest earned.<br />

The balance sheet of the co-op is unaffected<br />

economically by any change in membership, and<br />

all the economic gain in value stays in the co-op.<br />

While this might seem like a limit on asset<br />

accumulation for co-op members, remember that<br />

almost all of the 8,000- plus families living in a<br />

market-rental apartment in Davis are not building<br />

assets, in housing equity or outside of it.<br />

Meanwhile, for 2017 a co-op member’s annual<br />

return on share investment could be considered<br />

to be 52%, if you include cost savings compared<br />

to other available housing options in Davis.<br />

A member joining on 1 January, 2017, would have<br />

invested in a refundable share of $33,000. The<br />

savings in monthly costs compared to market rate<br />

would be $14,676, and the 3.25% interest earned<br />

on their share (for 2017) would come to $1,072.<br />

This amounts to $15,748, or 52% of their $33,000<br />

investment. If market rental prices continue to<br />

rise faster than co-op costs, this return could<br />

get even higher.<br />

The co-op as an ownership model also brings<br />

savings in transaction costs. As there is no<br />

change in the building mortgage, only a transfer<br />

of ownership shares, there are no real estate<br />

transaction costs for the member when joining<br />

or leaving. Transaction costs for condo purchases<br />

in Davis are more than $10,000, and higher for<br />

single-family homes.<br />

Given the economic return over time, an LEHC<br />

could also be a good thing for groups such as<br />

teacher associations and unions to bargain for:<br />

A housing co-op for teachers would give educators<br />

far more economic gain per year than could be<br />

gained from salary increases, while demanding<br />

less ongoing input from the school district. An<br />

LEHC could even help recruit teachers and staff.<br />

One affordable co-op in one high-rent city in<br />

30 years does not a movement make. However,<br />

of the home ownership options for the “missing<br />

middle,” the LEHC has tremendous potential.<br />

An LEHC would work well for many types of<br />

organizations that might have land to set aside for<br />

a cooperative community, and funds to help lowerincome<br />

families purchase the co-op share, such<br />

as local, state, and other government agencies;<br />

unions; churches; veterans groups; and other<br />

affinity groups.<br />

Given the massive need, there ought to be many<br />

more limited-equity housing co-operatives like<br />

Dos Pinos creating “wealth generating” housing<br />

for the forgotten.<br />

The Dos Pinos<br />

Housing Cooperative,<br />

the only limited-equity<br />

housing co-op in Davis,<br />

California, does not<br />

impose income limits<br />

on who can live there.<br />

Credit: David Thomson<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 43

A REAL LIVING WAGE For Real People's Lives<br />

What is the real living wage needed to live in the<br />

UK? According figures announced in November,<br />

it’s a minimum of £9 per hour – or £10.55 per hour<br />

if you live in London – for everyone over 18.<br />

These numbers are up from £8.75 (London:<br />

£10.20) in 2017, driven by higher transport costs,<br />

private rents and council tax feeding through to<br />

the basket of goods and services that underpin the<br />

rates, which are independently calculated based<br />

on what people need to get by.<br />

The real living wage is also significantly higher<br />

than the government’s own ‘national living<br />

wage’ of £7.83 for those aged 25 and over, and the<br />

minimum wage for those aged 21-24 (£7.38) and 18-<br />

21 (just £5.90).<br />

The rates are calculated by the Living Wage<br />

Foundation, an independent collective of<br />

businesses and people who believe that “a<br />

hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay”. The<br />

Foundation “celebrates and recognises the<br />

leadership of responsible employers who choose to<br />

go further and pay a real living wage based on the<br />

cost of living, not just the government minimum”.<br />

“The Living Wage campaign is about tackling<br />

the rising problem of people paid less than they<br />

need to live,” says Living Wage Foundation<br />

director, Tess Lanning. “Responsible businesses<br />

know that the government minimum is not enough<br />

to live on, and [the] new real living wage rates<br />

will provide a boost for hundreds of thousands<br />

of workers throughout the UK.”<br />

She added: “Employers that pay the real<br />

living wage enable their workers to live a life of<br />

dignity, supporting them to pay off debts and<br />

meet the pressures of rising bills. We want to<br />

see local councils, universities, football clubs,<br />

bus companies and the other major public and<br />

private sector employers in every city commit to<br />

become real Living Wage employers. When they<br />

do, thousands of people get a pay rise, but other<br />

local employers also follow their lead. If more of<br />

these institutions step up, we can start to build<br />

true Living Wage places.”<br />

The Foundation provides accreditation to<br />

organisations which pay the real living wage to<br />

all directly employed staff and have a plan to<br />

pay all contractors a real living wage. Over 4,700<br />

employers across the UK are currently accredited,<br />

including a third of the FTSE 100 and big<br />

household names such as IKEA and Everton FC.<br />

Several co-operatives and credit unions have<br />

signed up to the campaign, too, including,<br />

the Co-operative Party, Lister Housing<br />

Co-op. Eighth Day, the Wales Co-operative Centre<br />

and Co-op News, among others.<br />

And it was the Labour and Co-operative Mayor<br />

of Manchester, Andy Burnham, who announced<br />

the new rates in the city on 5 November. The event<br />

was hosted at the National Football Museum,<br />

which was accredited this autumn.<br />

“Life has become too hard for people these days,<br />

it’s too precarious,” said Mr Burnham. “If people<br />

haven’t got enough money to pay the rent, they’re<br />

just a few days away from being on the streets.<br />

That has to change, and the real living wage can<br />

be a part of that change.”<br />

He added that while some may view the real<br />

living wage as a burden on businesses, it was in<br />

44 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

fact about “building good, strong, productive<br />

businesses which keep their staff and get more<br />

from them” because they’re happier to be at work.<br />

“People are going to say how can we afford it?<br />

Well maybe it’s about people at the top of those<br />

organisations not taking their pay increase so<br />

those at the bottom can have theirs. That’s about<br />

building a stronger society and bringing people<br />

back together in these divided times.”<br />

He thanked Greater Manchester police, Salford<br />

University and Salford police for signing up as a<br />

real living wage employers but acknowledged<br />

there was more to be done, both in Greater<br />

Manchester and beyond. One such action would<br />

be to get rid of enforced zero hours contracts.<br />

“I can’t see how, in this day and age, people can<br />

have a foundation beneath them to do their best<br />

work and run a family home when they can’t be<br />

certain what they’re going to earn from one week<br />

to the next. It’s time to face up to these things<br />

and acknowledge that everybody deserves a real<br />

living wage.”<br />

Ms Lanning believes that the real living wage<br />

should be at the heart of new strategies to drive<br />

regional growth, highlighting research, conducted<br />

by the Smith Institute, which indicates that if, in<br />

ten cities, just a quarter of those on low incomes<br />

saw their pay raised to the real living wage, half a<br />

million people get a pay rise of over £1,700 a year<br />

and the cities’ businesses and wider economies<br />

would benefit from an economic boost worth<br />

over half a billion pounds, driven by increased<br />

productivity and spending.<br />

“To be meaningful, growth must at the very<br />

least meet the basic needs of local communities,”<br />

she said. “Local and combined authorities can<br />

use their powers of planning and procurement<br />

to encourage more local employers to commit to<br />

ensure their staff earn a real living wage, and make<br />

access to business support and skills investment<br />

dependent on paying a wage their staff can live<br />

on.”<br />

The issue was raised at the 2017 Co-op Group<br />

AGM, where members approved a motion that<br />

called upon the board to review pay ratios at<br />

the organisation from top to bottom, and to set<br />

a strategy to narrow the differential between the<br />

highest and lowest salaries to “an appropriate<br />

level” to reflect the organisation’s co-op principles<br />

and ethical approach to business – including<br />

progress towards a real living monthly wage for<br />

the lowest paid staff.<br />

“This AGM notes that executive pay has<br />

increased significantly in the UK, while pay at the<br />

bottom for the lowest paid has largely stagnated,”<br />

read the motion. “Co-operatives should be<br />

operating on a different basis that is more ethical<br />

and reflects greater equity within the workforce.<br />

“The Co-operative Group, as a leading co-op in<br />

the UK, should be setting the benchmarks which<br />

other co-operatives could adopt where appropriate.<br />

This ethical approach to pay ratios would be good<br />

business and make co-operative sense, reflecting<br />

our concern to ensure that our staff are fairly<br />

remunerated so as to keep delivering the business<br />

performance our society needs if we are to remain<br />

the public’s convenience retailer of choice.”<br />

In response, the Group agreed to invest an<br />

additional £4m for colleagues working in food<br />

stores and funeral homes in <strong>2018</strong>. It increased<br />

hourly pay rates for customer team members by<br />

6.1% in <strong>2018</strong> so pay starts at £8.02 per hour, and<br />

rises to £8.18 per hour plus an extra £0.70 for<br />

colleagues based in London.<br />

p Celebrating the new<br />

rates in Manchester<br />

tq Andy Burnham,<br />

Mayor of Greater<br />

Manchester, who<br />

announced the new rates<br />

at the National Football<br />

Museum in November<br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 45


A role like no other?<br />

The Co-op Group has two member-nominated director seats up for election next year.<br />

We talk to current MND Hazel Blears about the role - and why you should apply ...<br />

The Co-op Group’s board structure is unique.<br />

Alongside the expected executive and<br />

independent non-executive representation, four<br />

seats are reserved for direct election by members<br />

of the organisation.<br />

These member-nominated director (MND) roles<br />

were created in 2015, following the far-reaching<br />

governance reforms introduced in 2014. Just like<br />

the other directors, those elected bring a strong<br />

commercial background and proven skills and<br />

capabilities to the board – but also help bring the<br />

voice of ordinary members to the boardroom.<br />

“The Co-operative Group is different because<br />

we are owned by our members,” said chair Allan<br />

Leighton at the time. “They have a direct say in<br />

running the business, through electing member<br />

representatives to the board and the council; and<br />

through having a say on key issues through the<br />

one member one vote democratic process.”<br />

Current MNDs are Hazel Blears and Margaret<br />

Casely-Hayford CBE, who were re-elected at<br />

the Group’s AGM in May, and Paul Chandler<br />

and Gareth Thomas, whose seats are up for<br />

re-election in 2019.<br />

Here, Hazel Blears below, a trained solicitor<br />

and former MP for Salford and Eccles (2010-2015)<br />

talks about the role of MNDs, and why, if you’re<br />

thinking about applying, you should.<br />

How did you first get involved in co-ops?<br />

Very early on in my career I made a personal<br />

commitment to bring people together to make a<br />

difference. At the same time as I joined the Labour<br />

Party, I started to meet co-operators – interesting,<br />

passionate people who believed in the ideas<br />

of achieving more together. I’ve been a member<br />

of the Co-op Party for 35 years, and throughout<br />

that time, co-operation has been an important<br />

part of my personal, political and business life.<br />

What does a Member-Nominated Director<br />

(MND) at the Co-op Group do?<br />

The four of us are full board directors<br />

and have an equal footing with our independent<br />

non-executive directors. People may think that<br />

MNDs have to fight harder to be heard, but the<br />

other directors recognise that they have a hugely<br />

positive contribution to make. As we are directly<br />

elected by members, we feel we have a key role in<br />

raising member issues and concerns at the board<br />

and work with our fellow directors to make sure<br />

the organisation does well as a business, while<br />

also operating within the values and principles.<br />

It’s a very satisfying role – you feel like you are<br />

driving the business in the right direction. When I<br />

first got involved, the business was not in a good<br />

place. We are now in the position of having a<br />

stronger co-op to help build stronger communities,<br />

and values are integral to the business.<br />

MNDs are taken seriously, particularly as we<br />

are directly elected and have that mandate from<br />

members. They are also unique in corporate life<br />

– not many directors are accountable to members<br />

in such a direct and accountable way. Being elected<br />

in such a way gives you a drive and passion to<br />

make a difference.<br />

What makes a good MND?<br />

There’s no single vision — we come in all<br />

shapes and sizes! There is a challenge in terms<br />

of representation, particularly of younger people<br />

in their 20s and 30s.<br />

46 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

You don’t have to have 30 years experience<br />

to be an MND, so don’t rule yourself out on<br />

that account. We are all very different. You<br />

do need to meet the eligibility criteria to be<br />

an MND – this is all explained as part of the<br />

application process.<br />

I would say, though, that you also need to be<br />

prepared to go the extra mile. You have to work<br />

really, really hard, it’s time-consuming. Being able<br />

to build a good relationship with the Members'<br />

Council is key. You need to love people, love the<br />

co-op message, be willing to drive change and put<br />

in the time to do the job.<br />

Why did you stand as an MND?<br />

I’ve been a co-operator for most of my adult<br />

life, encouraging co-op strategies and most<br />

recently chairing a social investment business.<br />

After I left politics, I had two rules for myself:<br />

make a difference, and do it with people you like!<br />

The Co-op fits that frame perfectly. I want the<br />

Co-op to be the best, most responsible,<br />

successful business it can be. It’s a work in<br />

progress, but there is a lot of energy behind the<br />

changes and I wanted to be a part of that. In<br />

the last four years we’ve come from a situation<br />

that threatened our very existence and have<br />

created a Co-op we can all be proud of again.<br />

What have been your biggest<br />

achievements in the role?<br />

I am really proud to be the board champion<br />

for apprenticeships – we have around 1,000<br />

apprentices in our business at any one time, and<br />

they are all paid full rate from day one. And we<br />

have 64 who are degree-level apprentices – it’s a<br />

pipeline for our future, but they’re not all young,<br />

as people are joining us to start second or even<br />

third careers.<br />

I am also proud of helping to drive change to<br />

do good. When I joined, I wanted to move from<br />

traditional corporate social responsibility to using<br />

our mainstream business to do good. Doing good<br />

is good business, it drives competitive advantage,<br />

and we are now starting to measure that<br />

positive impact.<br />

Another achievement is around crime and<br />

antisocial behaviour – we’re working to tackle<br />

the causes of crime. Having been police minister,<br />

I’m obviously disappointed about police cuts.<br />

But on the back of that we have had to think<br />

smarter and collaborate with others to address<br />

such a big challenge.<br />

What would you say to someone thinking<br />

about applying?<br />

It could be the best thing you’ll ever do, so don't<br />

rule yourself out before you even start. You do<br />

have to understand and be at ease with complex<br />

commercial issues as it’s a £9.5bn business – but<br />

it’s built on values. So look at what you’ve done<br />

in different parts of your life and think about how<br />

that fits into co-op principles, particularly around<br />

social values or community. Be honest with<br />

yourself, but don’t sell yourself short.<br />

The value of our Co-op is that everyone’s<br />

contribution is recognised – we are always<br />

looking for difference, so even if you don’t think<br />

you fit the mould of a ‘typical’ director, have<br />

courage and go for it. The more people that we<br />

can get to think that they want to be part of the<br />

future of the best community organisation,<br />

the better.<br />



BOARD?<br />

Chair:<br />

Allan Leighton<br />

Executive Directors:<br />

Steve Murrells<br />

(Chief Executive)<br />

Ian Ellis<br />

(Chief Finance Officer)<br />

Senior Independent<br />

Non-Executive<br />

Director:<br />

Sir Christopher Kelly<br />

Independent Non<br />

-Executive Directors:<br />

Stevie Spring CBE<br />

Lord Victor<br />

Adebowale, MA,<br />

CBE (Cross Bench)<br />

Rahul Powar<br />

Simon Burke<br />

Member-Nominated<br />

Directors:<br />

Hazel Blears<br />

Margaret Casely<br />

-Hayford CBE<br />

Gareth Thomas<br />

Paul Chandler<br />

t Hazel Blears<br />

attending one<br />

of the Co-op's Join<br />

In Live events<br />

For more information<br />

on the role and<br />

details of how to<br />

apply, visit:<br />

www.co-operative.<br />

coop/mndelection<br />

Close of nominations<br />

is midday,<br />

17 December <strong>2018</strong><br />

<strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong> | 47

BOOKS<br />

Cooperation in cooperatives: Future solution to socio-economic problems<br />

Muhammad<br />

Sharif Bhaiji,<br />

published<br />

by Karachi<br />

Co-operative<br />

Housing<br />

Societies<br />

Union Ltd<br />

This look at co-operation in Pakistan focuses on<br />

the work of Karachi Co-operative Housing Societies<br />

Union Ltd, (KHCS) which was formed in 1949.<br />

It tells the story of the society and also sheds<br />

interesting light on the country’s co-op movement<br />

as a whole, which the author sees as standing apart<br />

from other Asia Pacific nations. While most countries<br />

in the region “are riding the so-called second wave<br />

of co-operatives, which is efficiency-centred and<br />

market focused”, writes Bhaiji, “in Pakistan ...<br />

we are still struggling with the first wave”.<br />

But organisations like KHCS have done strong<br />

work over the decades, he says, by “adopting a<br />

demonstrable co-operative housing strategy during<br />

the crisis of migration and settlement of migrants in<br />

Pakistan” – which was achieved at a time of scant<br />

government resources.<br />

The co-op sector has had “a lot of ups and downs”<br />

in housing, agriculture, banking and consumer<br />

sectors, says Bhaiji – notably the 1992 financial<br />

corruption scandal which saw co-ops in the Punjab<br />

and Kashmir province collapse, wiping out the<br />

savings invested in them by nearly 700,000 “mostly<br />

poor people”.<br />

But now he sees a revival in the movement and<br />

has produced this book – with sections on co-op<br />

byelaws, education and legislation – as a guide for<br />

the sector so it can take advantage of this revival,<br />

which has seen his own society launch schemes<br />

for low-cost housing projects, new townships,<br />

education projects and scholarships, and youth<br />

training initiatives.<br />

KHCS is the biggest co-op housing union in<br />

the country, comprising 24 societies. Its housing<br />

covers nearly 1,200 acres, and it has developed<br />

9,300 residential plots, 1,070 commercial<br />

roads, 73 amenity plots, 70 miles of metalled<br />

road, 80 miles of sewerage lines and 80 miles<br />

of water mains.<br />

It has followed up this achievement with<br />

educational projects and youth work to teach<br />

the upcoming generations about co-operations,<br />

including “blood camps” for children with<br />

thalassemia, who were in need of transfusions but<br />

could not afford the treatment.<br />

The book also looks at Pakistan’s women’s<br />

co-operative movement, describing female<br />

empowerment as a “momentous issue” in<br />

the country. Projects include a credit union to<br />

drive female financial empowerment, expos<br />

for women’s craft industries and cash awards<br />

for female students.<br />

And it identifies areas of concern for the future<br />

of Pakistan and its co-op movement: low<br />

productivity in agriculture; poor policy-making which<br />

has left industry uncompetitive on an international<br />

scale; and a need for more capital investment.<br />

“Pakistan is a country ... rich in every kind of<br />

natural and technical resources,” writes Bhaiji.<br />

But these cannot be properly exploited because<br />

of a “lack of proper policies, technical assistance,<br />

literacy level, capital and financial investments,<br />

updated machinery and technically trained<br />

human resource”. There are also infrastructure<br />

problems, such as providing adequate energy<br />

for business.<br />

It’s up to the co-op movement to face these<br />

challenges, he says, be establishing “some proper<br />

leadership and planned goals”. If the sector leads<br />

more literacy, female empowerment and economic<br />

development initiatives, he writes, “living standards<br />

utilities and facilities for the general Pakistani<br />

will also increase”.<br />

48 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

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DIARY<br />

FROM FAR LEFT: Inspiring Rural<br />

Communities at the St. Bride Foundation<br />

on 5 Dec; the Co-operative Retail<br />

Conference is in Cheshire in March;<br />

Co-operatives UK announces a series of<br />

events for 2019, including Congress (21-22<br />

June); and Siôn Whellens, who will be<br />

leading a session looking at the theory<br />

and practice of worker co-operation,<br />

3 Dec: The Co-operative College:<br />

Introduction to Coaching<br />

Coaching is a popular approach to<br />

employee development, based on a<br />

relationship between two people: the<br />

coach and the individual. This course<br />

is for anyone who wants to support<br />

colleagues to develop their skills or<br />

confidence in the workplace.<br />

WHERE: Manchester<br />

INFO: s.coop/2aqti<br />

5 Dec: Inspiring Rural Communities<br />

There will be sessions exploring the<br />

various types of funding available,<br />

workshops where you’ll explore the social<br />

impact your project could have on your<br />

community, inspirational case study<br />

presentations from existing community<br />

businesses and a chance to meet with a<br />

range of organisations who can offer you<br />

support and advice on a variety of topics<br />

and services.<br />

WHERE: St Bride Foundation, London<br />

INFO: s.coop/rural<br />

12 Dec: Worker co-ops - How to<br />

get started<br />

Organised by Stir to Action, this session<br />

looks at the theory and practice of worker<br />

co-operation, offers practical insights,<br />

arms you with information and tools<br />

to test your ideas, find collaborators,<br />

and turn plans into realities. Facilitated<br />

by Siôn Whellens of Calverts (the East<br />

London design and print co-op) who also<br />

co-designed and launched the Worker<br />

Cooperative Solidarity Fund.<br />

WHERE: London<br />

INFO: stirtoaction.com/workshops<br />

1-2 Feb 2019: Future Coops 2019<br />

– Can co-operative deserts bloom?<br />

Future Co-ops 2019 will explore how the<br />

co-operative sector can grow, addressing<br />

the issue of co-operative deserts and<br />

how new co-ops can be helped to bloom.<br />

Future Co-ops will be working with Central<br />

England Co-operative’s Think:Digital<br />

innovation team, using their new insights<br />

and participatory problem solving<br />

techniques in a fun and effective way.<br />

WHERE: Birmingham<br />

INFO: futures.coop/future-coops-2019<br />

8-10 Mar: Co-operative Retail Conference<br />

The Co-operative Retail Conference is the<br />

only annual event designed specifically<br />

for co-operative retailers. It attracts the<br />

leaders, managers and directors<br />

of consumer owned retail co-operatives<br />

from right across the UK.<br />

WHERE: De Vere Cranage Estate, Cheshire<br />

INFO: uk.coop/co-operative-retailconference<br />

21-22 Jun: Co-op Congress 2019<br />

Congress is the co-operative sector’s<br />

annual conference. A day when members<br />

and directors, activists and CEOs from<br />

co-ops large and small came together.<br />

WHERE: Manchester<br />

INFO: uk.coop/congress<br />

11-13 Oct: The Co-operative Party<br />

annual conference.<br />

The annual conference of the co-op<br />

movement’s political party.<br />

WHERE: Glasgow<br />

INFO: party.coop<br />

26-28 Nov: Co-operative Education and<br />

Research Conference<br />

Organised by the Co-operative<br />

College,the 2019 conference will be<br />

part of the celebrations of the College’s<br />

centenary year.<br />

WHERE: Rochdale<br />

INFO: co-op.ac.uk/our-centenaryconference<br />

50 | <strong>DECEMBER</strong> <strong>2018</strong>

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