Greater Manchester launches Commission to support the development of the co-operative sector

Greater Manchester’s inaugural Co-operative Commission has issued a rallying call to keep driving the movement forward and help build a stronger, fairer city-region where new co-ops and social enterprises can thrive.

Chaired by Councillor Allen Brett, Leader of Rochdale Council and Greater Manchester’s Portfolio Lead for Co-operatives, Communities and Inclusion, the Co-operative Commission met for the first time on Wednesday 13 February, and launched a call for evidence to explore how the sector can help deliver the ambitions set out in the Greater Manchester Strategy.

The Commission wants to work with co-operatives to reduce inequality, improve education and employment and help the sector grow into other areas of the economy to make Greater Manchester the most co-operative region in the UK.

Over 160,000 people in Greater Manchester are already members of a co-operative, and collectively these co-operatives contribute £73 million to the local economy.

The co-operatives include credit unions providing financial services to communities, ten housing co-operatives, and retail, which is the largest sector and includes a number of organisations that are reporting significant increases in turnover. Co-operatives are also starting to emerge in key growth areas such as digital and green technology.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: “As the home of the co-operative movement, it’s vital we harness those values and put them at the centre of everything we do, working with co-operatives and social enterprises to build a stronger, fairer Greater Manchester where nobody is left behind.

“Through the work of the Commission, we have an opportunity to do things differently and explore new and innovative ways to nurture, grow and work more closely with the co-operative sector so it plays a central role in making Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old.”

Councillor Allen Brett said: “Since the establishment of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844, the roots of the co-operative movement have embedded throughout the city-region.

“I’m proud to be chair of the Commission which has an important role in supporting the co-operative sector to evolve and expand, using its traditions and influence to encourage greater collaboration. I’m looking forward to working with co-operatives and social enterprises across Greater Manchester to ensure we are harnessing the full benefits that they can bring to our local economy to make our city-region the most co-operative in the UK.” 

Chair of the Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network, Councillor Sharon Taylor OBE said: “The Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network is delighted to be involved in this trailblazing Commission. 

“Greater Manchester is asking for a call to evidence with an ambition to reclaim the traditions of community action, community engagement and civic empowerment which can transform communities. The aim is to help deliver radical and innovative programmes that are designed, led and delivered in partnership with communities and therefore maximise the economic and social dividend they bring.  Our members are well-placed to provide such evidence.”

The Commission will sit as an independent panel, making policy recommendations to support the continued development of the co-operative sector in Greater Manchester, and to ensure that the city-region is drawing on the benefits that co-operatives can bring to our local economy.

It will focus on where co-operatives can support the delivery of the Greater Manchester Strategy exploring four opportunities for co-operative business and working, including:

  • Housing
  • Digital economy
  • Transport
  • Co-operative business development

The Commission is calling for evidence of the benefits and best practice of businesses built for co-operative purpose and principles as well as the barriers and how they have overcome difficulties.

You can share your experiences of co-operatives via the call for evidence at

Article Published: 11/03/2019 10:12 AM