Press release

Never a better time to start a co-op

We're asking all UK co-ops to thank the coalition government for delivering on their promise to support co-operatives and mutuals by visiting our Twitter feed, @CooperativesUK and retweeting one of the following messages:

  • It's often a thankless task being in gvt but a consolidation act can really push our buttons @Number10gov. Thank you from UK #coops! #coopmo
A new law comes into force today (1 August) that cleans up 50 years of legislation around co-operative businesses. The Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act fulfils a promise made two years ago by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to make it easier to run different and more ethical forms of business, including cutting red tape for the 6,000 co-operative enterprises in the UK.
Co-operatives UK, the country’s trade association for all co-operatives and mutuals, believes there has never been a better time to start, or grow, a co-op than now.
Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: “Despite the troubles of Britain’s largest consumer co-operative, co-ops have been growing faster than the UK economy over recent years. This landmark Act brings together long-dated, overly complex legislation, into one unified statute, making it easier than ever to set up a co-operative enterprise.
“We’d like to say thank you to the coalition for sticking by their promises to support co-ops and mutuals. There’s still more to be done though and we have an ambitious agenda for how the next government can keep the co-op momentum moving.”
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrea Leadsom MP, commented: “The Government is committed to supporting mutuals in helping people build a better future for themselves.  So I am delighted that the new Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Act is now in force - it will cut red tape for the 6,000 co-operatives in the UK and make it easier to run different and more ethical forms of business.”
A strong business case
Indeed, the business case for co-operation has never been stronger. Last year, the co-operative sector contributed over £37 billion to the UK economy at large, more than playing its part in the country’s journey to financial recovery. Co-operatives UK is now challenging the country’s business community to seriously consider the co-operative option and join the sector’s growing ranks.
Ed Mayo said: “There are far more co-ops than many people realise - something like six times more. With the new Act in force we see real potential for adding to these numbers.*
“Not just for start-ups and community-based ventures, co-op businesses are like any other, focused on being competitive and turning a healthy profit. However, where co-operative differ from traditional models is that they are owned and controlled by their members, not outside investors. They enjoy the trust of customers, have productive employees and are resilient through good times and bad.”
Robust yet flexible, the co-op model is suitable for emerging enterprises looking to get off the ground, right through to mature and established companies seeking a different way of doing business. Indeed, one in five of the UK’s top 100 co-ops have been in business for over 100 years.
Start up support
To support the new, consolidated Act for co-operatives and the ambitious plans for accelerated sector growth, a revised ‘Handbook of Co-operative and Community Benefit Society Law’ has been produced by Co-operatives UK.
Those interested in learning more about the co-operative option should contact Co-operatives UK for expert legal advice and technical support: