Last year Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, announced the creation of a Co-operative Commission to develop policy for co-ops in the city region. This is a golden opportunity to make devolution work for co-ops in one of the UK’s most high-profile cities. To convert this opportunity, the Commission needs the help of co-ops across the UK. If we make this work here, your area could be next!
This independent commission was formally established in February 2019 and is tasked with making evidence-based policy proposals for how Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) can support co-op development in three sectors: housing, the digital economy and transport, all chosen because of their fit with the Greater Manchester Strategy. The Commission has also been given a fourth cross-cutting focus, on what GMCA can do to enhance support for co-operative business development in Greater Manchester.
The nine commissioners have been chosen by GMCA to reflect the diversity of the co-op sector in Greater Manchester and to include relevant expertise. I am very proud to be one of them. I’m joined by people from worker co-ops, credit unions and consumer co-ops, as well as innovators in digital, representatives from academia, the law and city-regional government.
The success of the Commission depends on the evidence we receive from the co-op sector.
Please give evidence
The success of the Co-operative Commission rests on the quality of the evidence it receives and how well it turns this into practicable policy proposals for GMCA. We need evidence on the opportunities for, and barriers to, co-op growth in housing, digital and transport. We also need evidence on what makes for supportive conditions for co-op formation and development in a city, and what good local public policy looks like in all these regards.
This does not mean we need artful treatise or hauls of data (though digestible amounts of the latter would be nice). It does mean we need to read and hear about the lived experiences of people around the UK forming, running, using and advising co-ops, especially in housing, digital and transport.
There are two ways the Commission will gather the evidence it needs:
- An online call for evidence gives people across the UK to an opportunity to submit written evidence, guided by a couple of questions for each topic, open until 1 September 2019
- Four in-person evidence sessions held by the Commission in Greater Manchester, covering housing (in April), digital (in May), transport (in June) and co-operative development (in July), with witnesses invited by GMCA, with input from Commissioners and using Co-operatives UK’s member networks
Any Co-operatives UK members who are particularly interested in giving evidence to the Commission in person should contact me via email: [email protected] and we can take it from there.
At risk of repeating myself, the success of the Commission depends on the evidence we receive from the co-op sector. Please help to make the most of this all too rare opportunity.
Other ways to participate in policy and advocacy
Shared Prosperity Fund: The UK government has promised to replace EU Structural and Investment Funds with a new Shared Prosperity Fund. With our allies we are about to launch a campaign calling for 20 percent the Shared Prosperity Fund to be allocated for community economic development, prioritizing the participation of people in the most deprived parts of the UK. Read our proposal and give feedback here.
Social Investment Tax Relief Review: In the Spring Statement, government confirmed there will be a review of Social Investment Tax Relief in 2019. Co-operatives UK is eager to work with members with an interest in securing a more useful relief for the sector. Find our more and get involved here.
Thank you for supporting our policy work through your membership of Co-operatives UK.
James Wright, Policy Officer