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16/11/2010

Public services in the community –
what have co-ops got to do with it?

16th Nov 2010
Adrian Ashton
www.adrianashton.co.uk

Guest lecture to 1st year Public Services students, MMU

• What’s a co-op (and isn’t it the same as a
mutual?)

• Opps/threats in Big Society policy for coops

Adrian Ashton

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16/11/2010

• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wxu_zDis
alY (ed mayo)
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0atBklES
uU&feature=channel (ursulla lebetter)
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yswusM3
_mkw&feature=channel (unicorn)

Adrian Ashton

What’s a co-op?
• In the UK, no overarching single legal
definition...

• An enterprise owned, controlled, and run in
interests of its members (must be a principle
stakeholder group)

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Defined by values
• Voluntary and open membership
• Democratic member control
• Member economic participation
• Autonomy and independence
• Education, training and information
• Co-operation amongst co-operatives
• Concern for community

Adrian Ashton

A mutual
... shares many characteristics in common
with co-ops, but exists only to benefit its
members

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16/11/2010

Co-ops in the Big Society

Adrian Ashton

• Whatever happened to the Conservative Co-
operative Movement?

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Big Society
• Public sector reform
• Community empowerment
• Philanthropic action

Adrian Ashton

Why the interest in co-ops?
• One of most sustainable models for business

• Able to reach and engage those people that the state
can’t...

• Pioneered consumer/worker rights:
– Food labelling
– Animal testing
– Fair trade
– Environmental impact
– Workers rights
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UK co-op movement
• £29bn turnover (£550m each week)

• 1 in 5 people are a member of a co-op

• Employs more than 200,000 people

Adrian Ashton

...and globally:
• 100 million jobs (more than all multinationals
combined)

• Protects against fascism (Italy)

• Offers financial services to the White House

• Assure living wages and workers rights (fair Trade)

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Government agenda:
• “employee-led social enterprises, externalised
from existing public sector bodies”

Adrian Ashton

Perspective of the sector
• Co-op model would seem to offer ideal fit to
policy agenda
– ‘hunger’ from people: community buy-outs,
community share issues, Co-op schools, ...

• But need for support – no funding from state,
sector needs to better support itself

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Want to know more?
• Twitter - #coops

• Co-operativesUK www.uk.coop

• ICA www.ica.coop

Adrian Ashton

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