The Workers' Paradise A Discussion of Workers Cooperatives and Building the New Economy

May 2, 2010

The Brits love co-ops

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Bernard @ 12:10 pm

From the Guardian, a thorough report on the rise of interest in cooperative solutions from all the major political parties:

“WHY CO-OPERATIVES ARE COOL AGAIN”
All the main parties want workers to co-own and run public services as social enterprises, but advocates warn against seeing them as a way to cut costs…

Here are the most relevant few sentences, at the very end of this long story:

“While there is much to like about the idea of co-operative social enterprises that gets to the heart of community problems, they are not without their problems when it comes to getting them started and running them smoothly.

Turnbull says access to equity finance for setting up a co-op can be difficult. He cites the case of Casa, an employee-owned homecare social enterprise he is involved with, which is looking to buy private providers and convert them to employee ownership to speed the organisation’s growth. “But we are struggling to secure strategic growth finance,” he says.

Ed Mayo agrees there can be start-up issues. “Co-operatives can tend to be harder to start than getting an off-the-peg company,” he says.

“Spending time early on thinking about issues like membership and using your identity as a co-operative in business planning takes time upfront, although it can pay dividends down the line.”

Finding managers with the right balance of entrepreneurial skill, ethical value base, and technical skills can also be a challenge, says Turnbull. Mayo adds that other employee issues later down the line can be trickier to tackle than under a conventional business model.

“If there is one thing that co-operatives learn, it is that people’s behaviour matters,” he says. “When staff relations are a matter of contract, then you can resort to employment law when things go wrong. When staff relations are about membership, then you have to ensure that the spirit and not just the letter of co-operative behaviour is affirmed.”

The complete article here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/may/01/co-operatives-social-enterprises

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