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Why co-ops are pivotal to a fairer, stronger Scotland

Policy campaign

9th October 2020
Last updated
14th March 2023
Policy issue
Co-op development
Scottish P

Making Scotland the best place in the world...

Our report, Revive and thrive: Why co-ops are pivotal to a fairer, stronger Scotland, highlights the success of co-ops in helping Scots weather the Covid-19 storm. It provides examples of small and large co-ops, from across the country, that are rising to the challenge of the pandemic.

It examines current levels of support for co-operative enterprise. It also makes six recommendations for how Scottish government, now and after the next election, can make Scotland the best place in the world to establish new co-ops and develop existing ones.

Six recommendations

  • Worker and freelancer co-ops
  • Worker-community co-op hybrids
  • Housing and land co-ops
  • Platform co-ops

  • A focus on restarts as well as buyouts, using the worker co-op and worker-community hybrid models, as well as employee ownership trusts
  • More involvement of workers, unions and communities, earlier in discussions about the sale, closure or insolvency of businesses
  • Additional feasibility studies
  • Measures to create more time for buyouts and restarts to be organised and implemented
  • The provision of specialised finance to fund the acquisition of businesses or assets, led by the Scottish National Investment Bank
  • Where possible, providing this support in the wider context of community wealth building initiatives across Scotland

  • The Scottish National Investment Bank providing products/services that meet the distinct and currently unmet financing needs of co-ops and mutuals
  • Resourcing ‘after care’ programmes for businesses that have converted to employee and community ownership
  • Funding and organising peer support among Scotland’s co-ops
  • Resourcing programmes of specialised business support, tailored to co-ops, covering things like business planning and strategy, finance, innovation adoption, governance, culture and people development
  • Providing specialist support for converted employee owned businesses to develop more employee-led, democratic governance

  • Providing funding to make institutional match investments in community share offers, alongside communities and other funders such as the Scottish Land Fund
  • Building awareness of community shares, supporting organisations to use the model and contributing to the development of Community Shares Standards, through continued funding of Community Shares Scotland
  • Continued promotion of community benefit societies and community shares as a good legal structure for ‘community asset transfer’ and ‘community right to buy’
  • Promoting and supporting the use of community shares as part of efforts to retain viable jobs with the community-worker hybrid model

  • Funding training for people in co-ops with valuable knowledge and knowhow, to become effective peer mentors and co-op development specialists
  • Funding training for business advisors (in the public sector, on public contracts, and generally) to gain a better practical understating of pivotal co-op models
  • Funding training for business advisors to become co-op development specialists

  • Bringing together communities of interest and place to explore and develop their co-op options for work, business, housing, land and environmental and social action
  • Including a significant role for community-led economic development in which Community Economic Partnerships are supported to develop their own plans for sustainable and inclusive economic development
  • Earmarking around 25 per cent of Scotland’s portion of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to enable Community Economic Partnerships to work with local authorities to implement these plans
Read our policy paper in full
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