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'The Hive' £1M business support programme launches to help growth in the UK's £37BN Co-operative economy

29 February 2016

  • New report highlights demand for the co-operative option among business owners, employees and customers
  • First programme of its kind will help new and existing co-operatives, social enterprises and community businesses

The Co-operative Bank and Co-operatives UK today (29 February, 2016) announce the launch of ‘The Hive’, a new business support programme for people wanting to start or grow co-operative or community enterprises, using a mix of online resources, training and advice. The programme is designed to enhance the development and growth of co-operative and community enterprises, a sector that is currently worth £37bn to the UK economy.

Over the next three years, The Hive, the first co-operative development programme of its kind in the UK and powered by £1million* funding from The Bank, will support the development of the existing 7,000 independent co-operative businesses across the UK alongside helping new co-operatives and community businesses starting up.

The launch comes as a new report – The Co-operative Option – highlights evidence of people’s discontent with the amount of control they have over the economy, their workplaces and their local communities. And it finds that people see co-operatives as an answer, whether as a way to have more influence over large businesses or as a way to save local services in their community.

The Co-operative Option report** found that of those who expressed an opinion:

  • Almost two thirds of people (59 per cent) feel they have no control over the economy and 62 per cent said the same for the big businesses in Great Britain;
  • Two thirds of people would like their library or leisure centre (69 per cent) or family’s elderly care provider (66 per cent) to be a co-operative, and 68 per cent of people say the same for their supermarket and also for their healthcare provider;
  • Whereas almost two thirds (62 per cent) of people see co-operative businesses as fair, only one in ten (11 per cent) say the same of PLCs;
  • 68 per cent of people in work do not feel that their workplace is something they can influence, a 10 per cent increase since last year;
  • 72 per cent of people have, or like the idea of, clubbing together with other people to save a local service or asset, particularly historical buildings, public parks, and local shops and pubs.

Commenting on the launch of The Hive, Ed Mayo, General Secretary at Co-operatives UK, said: “The Hive is a new business support programme designed for people wanting to start or grow co-operatively run organisations. It will provide mix of online resources, training, advice and peer mentoring to organisations and start-ups across a range of sectors, from renewables to retail, sports to social care.

“Our research shows that there is increasing disillusionment at the lack of control people have over the economy, their local area and their workplaces. However, it highlights how people also see co-operatives as an alternative way to have some influence over everything from what happens at their local leisure centre to the content of their preferred TV channel.”

Niall Booker, Chief Executive at The Co-operative Bank, said: “The Hive is a UK first programme that can help guide business people through the process of starting a co-operatively run business, assist those wanting to convert to a co-operative, and help existing co-ops grow. We have a combination of public support for co-ops, a dynamic sector and now an innovative business support programme, which can help boost an important part of the economy.

“Last year we underpinned our commitment to supporting co-operative values and ethics in the UK with the launch of our extended Ethical Policy. This partnership brings our commitment to life by providing funding over the next three years to launch and promote ‘The Hive’ in order to provide resources and expertise to help existing and new co-operatives grow and flourish.”

The Hive offers 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, launching in April will unite member-owned businesses across the country, creating networking and business development opportunities.

For more information on The Hive visit www.thehive.coop

-- ENDS --

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

Notes to editors

* The Co-operative Bank provided £1.05 million in funding to The Hive. 

**All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,016 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 10th February 2016.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to around five million retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) 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.

About The Hive

The Hive is a new business support programme for people wanting to start or grow co-operative or community enterprises.

To find out about the mix of online resources, training and advice can help build a better co-operative business visit www.thehive.coop.

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