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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.

Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank has been in the media spotlight, following the announcement of a downgrade in ratings by the agency Moody’s.

None of this has been good news. But it has been encouraging for me to see the way that the new leadership team at the Co-operative Group has responded to this, with a clear and credible set of steps to move forward.

New life for local news

As ever more local newspapers close and titles merge, more and more communities are left without a local media outlet, feeding a sense that local media is undergoing a slow but inevitable death. But there are examples across the UK, Europe and the US and elsewhere that tell a different story.

Raising the sails for when the wind comes

I was pleased to deliver the Annual Quaker Salter Lecture this weekend.

The theme I took were words from Fritz Schumacher. He said, a generation ago, that: “I certainly never feel discouraged. I can’t myself raise the winds that might blow us or this ship into a better world. But I can at least put up the sail so that when the winds comes, I can catch it.”

Co-operative identity – Have your say

Take action by 22nd May to help defend this potential threat

A care economy

It is in the nature of us as people to care… and at times not to care.

There is a care economy out there. Many of the most important and fulfilling parts of our lives – such as parenting, neighbourliness and favours – are about care, even if they are not conventionally classed as economic activity.

When people are motivated by a need which inspires care, whether unpaid or paid, such as a care worker or nursing, there can be a richness in the motivation, because it is needs driven and sustaining of people and society.

The way to change banking is to change banks

So, the deal between Lloyds and the Co-operative Bank is off.

It held the prospect of being a game changer in banking, simply by extending the branch network for the Co-operative Bank across a far wider reach across the country. In addition to 630 branches, over four million customers would have come across, the result, ultimately, of a decision by the regulator that Lloyds, for taking the shilling of the state, needed to sell some of its branches, to limit its sway.

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