Plunkett Policy Perspectives May 2014

Hi all,

Below is news relating to Plunkett’s policy work and interests which include co-operatives, rural development, community-ownership and food and farming.

A date for your diary

Plunkett’s community-owned enterprise event and AGM is taking place on 1st July in Oxfordshire. We’d love to see you there. More information here.

Co-operatives in the news

It has been another high profile month for the co-operative movement culminating with the Co-operative Group AGM last Saturday. Important reforms were passed by members that included:

  • The creation of an elected board of directors, comprising people with relevant experience to run an organisation like the Co-op
  • The establishment of a structure that gives Co-op members powers to hold the board to account
  • Moving to a “one member, one vote” system, in which members can directly vote on policies
  • The introduction of rules to protect against de-mutualisation

A new purpose for the Co-operative Group was also unveiled – “Championing a better way to do business for you and your communities”

  • Championing – It’s part of our heritage, taking a stand, making a noise on a small number of social issues which are relevant to our businesses and our members lives
  • Better way of doing business – we need to be commercially successful, building a sustainable way of doing business that is mutually beneficial, recycling our success into strengthening communities. Continuing our ongoing commitment to ethical values and sourcing
  • For You – immediate and tangible benefits for our members and customers who are not yet members. Functional benefits – better prices; great quality; right location; excellent customer service; emotional benefit – feels good and feels right
  • Your Communities – enabling and strengthening communities, being locally relevant and reinforcing reasons why members and customers should be loyal to us

The important of affordable housing in rural areas

Housing that is affordable, particularly for people living and working in rural areas, is always one of the most significant issues facing rural communities and has been for years. During the month Plunkett contributed to the Rural Services Network’s response to a Government consultation which is looking at whether to drop a requirement which has delivered significant amount of affordable housing in rural areas. Plunkett has strong links with the Community Land Trust Network (I sit as an associate board member) that helps communities to set up community-owned housing as a response to concerns about affordable housing.

Social investment update

Plunkett is continuing to work with Cabinet Office, HMRC and Treasury to see what practical use the new Social Investment Tax Relief could be. In particular, we’re working to see if some of the exclusions (e.g. agricultural production, co-operative pubs run by tenants) that apply to other incentives like the Enterprise Investment Scheme could be covered by SITR.

On 27 May the new Community Shares Scotland support programme will be launched in Perth. We’re proud to be part of this new support to help broaden the range and number of community share issues in Scotland. Community shares has become a significantly important source of start up capital for community co-operatives in only a few years. We’ll be working with Development Trust Scotland, the Plunkett Foundation, Rocket Science and Community Shares Unit. The service is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the Carnegie UK Trust.

I hope you have a good month ahead.


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