Co-operatives UK, Provision of strategic support to Plymouth City Council

Posted on 18th May, 2019

Why PCC wanted to do the work

Plymouth City Councils (PCC) Corporate Plan sets co-operative working as a strategic value and wanted to set an action plan for increasing the number of businesses in the city that are owned and run co-operatively.  The New Economics Foundation report ‘Co-ops Unleashed, Doubling the Co-operative Economy’ set ambitious targets and policy recommendations and we were keen to identify how PCC could contribute.

The brief and using CCIN Framework

To ensure that the methodology could be benchmarked with existing sector mapping and to provide a Strategic Action Plan to double the size of this sector by 2025, PCC appointed Co-operatives UK to undertake research and provide recommendations.  The Co-operative Councils Innovation Network Consultancy Framework provided an ideal framework to procure via a Direct Award as the contract value was under the £50,000 threshold.



Co-ops UK’s mapping capability

Each year, Co-operatives UK produces the Co-op Economy, the nation’s only comprehensive report on the UK’s co-operative sector. It reveals turnover, membership and employee figures for thousands of co-operative businesses across the UK.  The work for PCC produced six distinct yet connected outputs, including a static report mapping all co-operatives and mutual businesses in the area, accompanying commentary to pull out broad themes and key industries identified through analysis and raw data files provided with metadata sources.

Development of the Strategic Action Plan

Analysis of the mapping research, local economic development research and consultation with key stakeholders identified by PCC enabled Co-operatives UK to analyse five strands for strategic priorities: 

  1. Strategic Growth Areas – sectoral analysis using location quotients understand both the geographical concentration of sectors and industrial specialisation in Plymouth. 
  2. Access to finance – scoping of potential sources of finance and enablers such as tax reliefs and mutual guarantee schemes
  3. Business Support – identification of potential forms of business advice and support
  4. Awareness –  promoting the co-op option amongst key audiences, including business support and other intermediaries
  5. Procurement / Commissioning – opportunities to leverage PCC procurement to facilitate growth

Moving forward

PCC will aim to double the co-operative economy by 2025 across four indicators:

  • Organisations
  • Turnover
  • Membership
  • Employees

This will be achieved by creating the right conditions for co-operative formation.  These include:

  • Finance: Scope the viability of a new community investment institution to offer the “right type of finance” to new-start co-ops
  • Support: Build the capacity of the council to facilitate the implementation of the Action Plan and peer support between existing and emerging co-operatives
  • Inform: Consider a “co-operative option” awareness programme to inform both prospective co-operatives and the wider professional services sector

The five strategic growth areas through this collaborative work will inform future activity around:

  • The local wellbeing economy
  • Community owned infrastructure
  • Worker-owner technology & creative industry
  • Public facing cultural and community hubs
  • Municipal co-operation

CUK Mapping and strategy planning with Plymouth CC