Press release

The UK’s first co-operative census: early indicators

One month in to the first ever co-operative census, early indicators reveal some interesting details about co-operatives on key issues such as gender parity and Brexit.

With limited data on the UK’s 7,000 co-operative organisations, the census aims to better understand how member owned businesses are faring across the UK – what is working, what the challenges are, where they would like to be, what they need to get there.

The responses so far reflect the diversity of the UK’s co-operative sector, covering everything from volunteer-run country markets and supporters’ trusts through to large customer owned retailers and public service mutuals.

The census runs to the end of October, giving as many organisations the opportunity to complete it as possible, but early indicators present some interesting facts about the UK’s co-ops:

  • Of those co-operatives which have responded so far, nearly two thirds (64%) have as many or more women than men in leadership positions
  • Of those co-operatives which have responded so far, only half (52%) are worried about the uncertainty caused by exiting the European Union, with a short term downturn, long term economic uncertainty and legislation changes their principal concerns
  • Of those co-operatives which have responded so far, two thirds (66%) say they co-operate with other co-operatives in their trading activities.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said:

“The census offers the opportunity for us to get under the bonnet of the organisations that make up the UK’s dynamic co-operative sector. We are beginning to see how different businesses and sub-sectors are working, what is worrying them, what they are planning for the future.

"As more and more organisations complete the census, we will be able to build a strategy to support them and help strengthen the UK’s co-ops.”

The census is being run by Co-operatives UK in partnership with federal bodies representing the different parts of the co-operative sector – allotments, working mens’ clubs, housing co-ops, credit unions and others - with the results feeding into a bigger piece of work to create a national co-operative development strategy to support and grow the UK’s co-operatives.

All co-operatively run organisations are urged to complete the census here.