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16 October 2015

The Co-operative Bank and Co-operatives UK announce £1million partnership to grow the co-operative sector in the UK

The Co-operative Bank and Co-operatives UK today announce an agreement to launch a £1million three-year partnership to support the development and growth of the UK's dynamic co-operative and social enterprise sector.

The new programme, set to launch in early 2016, aims to boost the 'co-operative economy' which is already worth £37 billion to the British economy.1 Over the next three years, the £1million programme, the first of its kind in the UK, will support the development of the existing 6,796 independent co-operative businesses across the UK alongside helping new co-operatives and community businesses starting up.

The programme will offer comprehensive online business advice and guidance, alongside one-to-one support, peer mentoring and group training sessions, covering key issues such as registration, membership development, and co-operative finance. An online co-operative community will unite member-owned businesses across the country, creating networking and business development opportunities.

Co-operative values are written in the Bank's Articles of Association and, in January 2015, the Bank committed to supporting the growth of the co-operatives sector as part of its extended Ethical Policy, when over 74,000 customers shared their views on what was important for the future.

 

Niall Booker, chief executive at The Co-operative Bank, said: “Co-operatives and community businesses have an important role to play in the UK economy and society as a whole, and it is important that the growth and development of the sector is supported. The value of co-operative and member-owned businesses to the British economy has increased by 15 percent over the last five years and we want to play an important role in supporting growth for the future.

“Earlier this year, we underpinned our commitment to supporting co-operatives in UK by writing this into the Bank's Ethical Policy. This partnership brings this commitment to life by providing Co-operatives UK with funding over the next three years to provide resources and expertise to help existing and new co-operatives grow and flourish.”

Ed Mayo, secretary general at Co-operatives UK, said: “With everything from football clubs to farmer controlled businesses, the co-operative sector is diverse and thriving. This partnership promises to give it a further boost. Whether it's supporting communities to gain control of vital local assets like pubs or historic buildings, or helping existing co-operatives create more jobs, the new programme will provide welcome support for businesses up and down the country that are giving people control over things that matter to them.

“With a new Co-operatives Act last year, the rise of 'community shares' crowdfunding and now this support programme backed by The Co-operative Bank, there has never been a better time to start or grow a co-operative.”

 

ENDS

For further information contact The Co-operative Bank Press Office.

 

Notes to editors:

About The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to almost 5 million retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprise) customers. The Bank is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement.

The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in January 2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning.

About Co-operatives UK

Co-operatives UK is the network for Britain's thousands of co-operatives. Together we work to promote, develop and unite member-owned businesses across the economy. From high street retailers to community owned pubs, fan owned football clubs to farmer controlled businesses, co-operatives are everywhere and together they are worth £37 billion to the British economy.

Footnotes:

1. Co-operatives UK report: 'The UK co-operative economy 2015', http://www.uk.coop/economy2015/uk-co-operative-economy-2015-report.