For six weeks we have been fighting for co-ops to get the help they need to survive this pandemic. This includes lobbying the UK government to include co-operative and community benefit societies in its emergency insolvency reforms.
But two very dangerous gaps in support still need filling, especially in England. Too many co-ops are ineligible for any cash grant. And so far it looks like government’s business loan scheme is not helpful for most co-ops.
Today (27 April) Co-operatives UK is joining forces with others in the social economy to lobby the government in Westminster on these issues. Add your name to support our plan for the sector.
What we know
From the start of the pandemic we’ve been gathering information on how co-ops are being affected and where gaps in government’s support could be. Now, thanks to those who’ve responded to our survey, data is giving us an ever-clearer picture of the impact and need, while also informing our lobbying efforts.
Here’s what we now know:
- One in two co-ops (48 per cent) report experiencing cash flow issues
- Almost 40 percent are having to furlough workers in order to survive
- Looking to the medium-long term 70 percent of co-ops express concerns about the health of their business
We are extremely concerned for the 17 per cent of co-ops that list ineligibility for any government grant as a major challenge to their survival. We are also concerned for more than half of UK’s 7,215 co-ops, which may be surviving now but will need better-tailored support in the months to come. We particularly share the concerns of the wider social enterprise and business communities that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is not meeting their needs.
Priority policy asks
Alongside the wider social enterprise and business communities, we are urging government to:
- Extend eligibility for the Small Business Grant Fund to all micro enterprises (annual turnover up to £632,000) that have a clear social purpose and reinvest the majority of their profits in that purpose
- Enhance the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for small businesses; and provide additional capital to social impact financiers, so that these can provide fast, patient, low and zero interest loans to co-operatives, mutuals and other social enterprises
- Ensure community benefit societies will be eligible for the £370 million of grants being made available for charities and social enterprises via the National Lottery Community Fund