The building blocks of cooperation in Greater Manchester are strong, with more than 160,000 people in Greater Manchester already members of a co-operative. Co-operatives collectively contribute £73 million to the local economy. The co-ops 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.
In July 2018, the Combined Authority set up a Greater Manchester Co-operative Commission to ensure that the city-region stays at the forefront of co-operative development. The Commission sat as an independent panel, chaired by Cllr Allen Brett and vice-chaired by Cllr Angelika Stogia, the GMCA Portfolio Lead and Deputy Portfolio Lead respectively for Community, Voluntary and Co-operatives. They were joined by nine independent Commissioners.
The Commission examined how the sector can support the delivery of the Greater Manchester Strategy, exploring four ‘opportunities’ for co-operative business and working, housing, digital economy, transport and co-operative business development
The Commission’s report, A Co-operative Greater Manchester (PDF, 5.2MB), sets out a number of recommendations to support the development of the co-operative sector in Greater Manchester and make the most of the social, environmental and economic benefits co-operatives bring.
These include designating Greater Manchester as a Co-operative Zone with a dedicated resource to offer business advice and support for both existing co-operatives and those who wish to start or convert to a co-operative approach.
Other recommendations include:
- Partners from across all sectors in Greater Manchester should come together to enable an increase in community-led, placed based approaches to co-operation, community ownership and economic development
- Greater Manchester should lead on developing a city-region version of pioneering work in Europe, drawing together ‘freelancers’ and people in precarious employment into a powerful and functional economic unit.
- Greater Manchester should set up a Greater Manchester Community Housing Hub to address a gap in the housing market and enable the establishment of co-operative and community-led housing projects
- Greater Manchester should carry out a place-based pilot programme for the development of community-owned ‘total transport’ business models / community transport to link up with shared modes and mainstream network as part of the ongoing work around bus reform
More information on the ongoing work of the Commission can be found on their independent website (GM Cooperative Commission).