Press release

Assembly group formed to find co-operative solutions for Wales

Welsh Assembly Members of all parties have come together to find co-operative solutions to Wales' economic challenges.

The Assembly Cross-party Group on Co-operatives and Mutuals was formed on Wednesday 25 November 2009. Assembly Members who have committed to join the group include Lorraine Barrett AM, Chris Franks AM, Mike German AM, John Griffiths AM, Mark Isherwood AM, Gareth Jones AM, Huw Lewis AM and David Melding AM.

The group will meet regularly to address topics such as farmers' co-operatives, the Welsh Housing Mutual, mutual funds for small business investment and the credit union movement in Wales.

Alex Bird, Chair of Co-operatives and Mutuals Wales and a member of the Assembly's Social Enterprise Ministerial Advisory Group, said: 'I welcome the formation of the new Cross-party Group on Co-operatives and Mutuals, which demonstrates the Assembly's commitment, across the parties, to a different way of building the Welsh economy. Co-operatives and Mutuals are a form of business that can help to protect us from the vagaries of the current system because they are owned and controlled by the people they affect rather than outside shareholders.

'Co-operatives and Mutuals Wales, the representative body for co-operatives in Wales, is pleased to support this important development, and looks forward to a series of stimulating debates on this subject.'

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co‑operativesUK, said: 'There could not be a more better time to harness the potential of co-operatives. Across the world, there is a resurgence of financial co-operatives, businesses that instead of failing are being bought out by staff and community level cooperatives providing lifeline services, from rural villages to inner cities. Wales has long been a pioneer in the field of community and co-operative action, and the launch of the All Party Group for the Welsh Assembly is both timely and welcome.'

Group Chair David Melding AM, Welsh Conservatives, said: 'I am delighted that the All-Party Group on Co-operatives and Mutuals is up and running. We believe that Co-ops and Mutuals will play an even greater role in Welsh society in the years ahead. It is important that we take full advantage of the benefits that Co-ops and Mutuals can bring to the economy.'

Welsh Labour AM Lorraine Barrett said: 'As a long-standing member of the Co-operative Party and Chair of the Assembly Co-operative Group, I am delighted to be part of the Cross Party Group which will take forward co-operative ideals and goals and raise the profile of the Co-operative movement at the Assembly.'

Plaid Cymru AM Chris Franks said: 'I am delighted to be part of the cross party group on co-operatives and mutuals. As a member of Plaid Cymru's successful credit union I know the value of credit unions. In this era of credit confusion, the credit union is at an advantage, with secure deposits and loans at competitive rates. It is time to think differently about the way we use our money. Plaid sees alternative ways of using local financial services to help businesses as well as individuals. We should look at setting up community banking schemes in communities where there are no banking facilities and for community initiatives to provide finance to set up or develop businesses.

'I welcome this new group and believe that it will stimulate debate about the future of the Welsh economy. I hope that it will highlight the important work that the co-operative movement does in our communities and explore new ways of how co-operatives can help communities across Wales.'

Welsh Liberal Democrats AM Mike German said: 'I welcome this initiative. There is great interest in mutual organisations that provide an alternative to traditional options, in particular credit unions as opposed to banks.'