Fund to help Plymouth’s co-operative economy grow

A new fund is being set up to help Plymouth people to take more control of jobs, livelihoods and to keep more money in the city.

The Co-operative and Mutuals Development Fund worth £1.259 million is being launched by Plymouth City Council as part of its plan to help its co-operative economy grow.

A co-operative is a self-governing association of people who join forces to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

Plymouth had its first co-operative back in 1859, which was set up by Charles Goodenew, a shoemaker in Bretonside.  By 1918 a host of shops, dairies, and butcher shops all worked together as co-operatives, supplying local people with the goods they needed as well as ensuring money made stayed in the city.  Even Nancy Astor was a member of the Cooperative Womens’ Guild.

There are 23 co-operative enterprises already based in Plymouth with a combined turnover of £18.6 million and membership of over 9,500 people. The city’s fish market is run as a co-operative for instance – and it is incredibly successful. Others include CaterEd, Plymouth Energy Community, Plymouth Credit Union and Nudge Community Builders to name a few.

In the city’s travel to work area there are 96 including Riverford Farm, which is currently converting from a family business to a co-operative.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Cooperative Development Councillor Chris Penberthy added: “We want to see economic growth that benefits as many people as possible – which is what co-operatives aspire to do. It’s not just about jobs and income, it is about creating a sense of involvement and pride.”

Last November the Council announced an action plan to create the right conditions for co-operatives to form, to promote and support ways into cooperation, apply national co-operative strategies locally to support health and social care, digital and freelance workers and encourage and support co-operative approaches in the local wellbeing economy.

He added: “This is big stuff. We have some cracking examples here in Plymouth of how co-operatives can make a difference – look at the amazing work carried out by PEC. We want this fund to be the catalyst for more great things that will benefit our residents.”

A delegated decision was signed off authorising £1,258,965 to be allocated to the project within the Capital Programme.