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Top ten ideas

I have been tweeting ten ideas from the great Geoff Mulgan, drawn from his new book, The Locust and the Bee. Here they are in a single blog:

1. Crises of efficiency become crises of interpretation – radical change happens not when things change but categories change

2. A predatory trade is one that is not reciprocal…economics has struggled to distinguish between profit and rent.

3. The economy needs care, which is why so many firms devote such efforts to create their own cultures, myths & meanings

Mutual, co-operative, friendly – what’s in a name?

The Mutual Life Assurance Society of the Cape of Good Hope was established in 1845 in South Africa as an insurance mutual. It became known over the years as ‘the old mutual’ and this in turn became its trading name. That was smart marketing – after all, it always helps to see yourself in ways that are in line with how your customers want to see you.

Co-operation by the seaside

As seaside piers enjoy their busiest month of the year, we have published a report by Jess Steele, The People’s Piers, which examines the ownership, usage and future of Britain’s piers.

The good news is that seaside piers remain as popular as ever, with 6 million people a year visiting them. The report also shows that:

Responsible rating?

A library in a shop?

I visited the Lincolnshire Co-operative Society this week, to see how they are creating space on the high street for libraries.

With cuts all around, the county may have to close up to 32 of its 46 libraries. This is where the co-operative has stepped in, recognising that if communities want it, then there may be new ways to keep the service alive. The co-op is piloting 5 libraries in-store, as well as services such dropping off books with its existing home prescription service for house-bound patients.

Community reinvestment

Banking that helps? The framework of regulation and incentives that promote equal opportunities in finance in the USA has long stood out as a model for success.

The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act in the 1970s was a response to allegations of race discrimination in lending by banks. The Act required them to publish their lending data. This was followed by the Community Reinvestment Act, that widened the disclosure and added an obligation on banks to serve all the community in which they were licensed to operate.

An open set of questions

We had an open and constructive session recently at our annual Co-operative Congress on the current context around the Co-operative Bank. The strong sense from the wider co-operative sector is one of support for the practical action now underway to restructure the capital base of the Co-operative Bank, in partnership with those affected, in order to safeguard its operations, in line with co-operative values and principles.

Enough to count

The model of public services that are delivered by mutual enterprises with a strong staff has moved from idea into practice over recent years.

I met with Anthony Collins Solicitors this week, hearing about their work with partners on co-operative models in probation.

According to new statistics from the Cabinet Office, reporting in a one-year progress check after the end of the Mutuals Task Force (which I participated in):

In good health

After the knockabout in the media in recent weeks, leading to the positive news on the added capital cushion for the Co-operative Bank, it is good to report that the co-operative sector overall is in good shape.

Homegrown: The Co-operative Economy 2013 is the annual statistical digest for the co-operative sector. It shows a growth in the co-operative economy for the fifth consecutive year, with a record number of people with co-operative memberships – now at 15.4 million.

Still Co-operative?

The capital injection announced today for the Co-operative Bank resolves its immediate financial needs – in terms of boosting its equity cushion in line with the way regulatory requirements are headed.

But with minority shares and external investors, is it a co-operative?

There is a clear answer. Yes, even if, by degrees, close to the edge.


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