Cooperative Devolution

Cooperative Devolution – unlocking local wealth


Together with the five million citizens that we represent, councils of the CCIN have pledged to strike new local deals with 1,000 businesses to help more people into better jobs. We urge government, in turn, to give us the power, money and responsibility to get people skilled-up and into work.   

Local pledges

Cooperative councils are getting on with the job of transforming local services and influencing our economies to better support people into work and drive economic growth that benefits communities. But to scale this work up and maximise its impact, we need government to remove the constraints of centralisation and give us greater control over key policy and economic levers.

A number of cooperative councils have developed local pledges to put cooperative principles at the heart of employment support, local growth, skills and business engagement, building on the deals with citizens, business and government set out in our Commission report on community resilience, jobs and growth. In turn they have set out what government can do to enable these approaches to prosper through greater flexibilities and devolved funding. The local pledges can be found below.

Bassetlaw District Council – Building a place based brand to drive the local economy. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Bassetlaw District Council will work with the local business community to develop a ‘place first’ brand for Bassetlaw to position the district as an attractive place to work, invest, visit and live thereby increasing new business investment, increased visitor numbers and residents appreciation of the locality’s distinctiveness. The initiative aims to drive the local economy and attract a minimum of 15 new businesses by June, 2015. Other key outcomes will include supporting at least 25 businesses through workshops and qualified business advisors.

Islington Council – Cooperative commitments with job seekers, employers and government to boost employment. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Islington Council’s cooperative commitment includes deals with job seekers, employers and central government to significantly increase the employment rate of local people, help more people claiming sickness and disability benefits into work, reduce the number of people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance for more than a year, and improve client satisfaction with employment support. For job seekers the offer will include more coordinated and higher quality employment support, including personalised support programmes. For employers it will include a single point of contact to provide the support they need to recruit locally and pay a living wage. For government there is a request for greater flexibilities.

Knowsley Council – Driving employability and skills through better engagement between schools and employers. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Knowsley Council’s Employability Skills Project will broker more effective relationships between schools and employers in order to better link young people with employment and develop work related skills. All of Knowsley’s secondary schools are keen to engage with the project, and all of the businesses approached have offered various levels of support. A number of programmes have been co-designed as part of the project, including capacity building initiatives for teachers and business-led workshops and development opportunities for students. To continue to drive this agenda forward, a commitment from Government to allow schools to devote more time and resource to employability as part of the curriculum would be hugely beneficial.

Lambeth Council – Delivering 300 new apprenticeships. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Lambeth Apprenticeships will run a campaign to deliver 300 new apprenticeships in a range of sectors, with the aim of creating high-quality opportunities that benefit businesses and support the career development and progression of young people. The project will be cooperatively designed with businesses and young people and use a range of approaches – including road shows, apprenticeship ‘champions’, networks and policy and financial incentives – to achieve the aims of the campaign. To drive the project forward, Government should ring fence funding for local apprenticeships promotion and brokerage targeted in particular at creating and supporting opportunities for more vulnerable young people.

Oldham Council – Get Oldham Working: supporting local residents into sustainable jobs. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Click here to read Council Leader Cllr Jim McMahon’s blog on Oldham’s deal.

Oldham Council will continue to run a local campaign which has a number of key elements under the Get Oldham Working programme, which is an initiative to support local residents into sustainable jobs. This includes the Fair Employment Charter whereby the council supports local businesses to achieve key standards (including paying a living wage), offer fair contracts and stability of employment, offer access to training and support, support membership of trade unions, enable and encourage residents to ‘do their bit’ for the borough and support local people into work. As part of this Oldham Council commits to achieving a number of outcomes, including (but not limited to) working in partnership across sectors to create 500 jobs, create 50 apprenticeships in Oldham Council and 50 with employers, and engaging with 100 new businesses. Government can support this by provide flexibilities around wage incentives and a more flexible to skills acquisition.

Plymouth City Council – A new deal for communities, businesses and citizens. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Plymouth City Council is committing to running a local campaign to deliver a new deal in the city for communities, businesses and citizens.

Plymouth’s deal with citizens will include brokering relationships between job seekers and employers, building on local success through the 1,000 Club; helping 2,000 more people into work or an apprenticeship this year; and delivering an ‘employability passport’ to enhance the work readiness of school leavers.

Plymouth’s deal with businesses will include promoting the living wage and working with the local building industry to link local people with career opportunities.

Plymouth’s deal with communities will comprise a range of initiatives including creating an additional Community Economic Development Trust, boosting community capacity and transferring assets to the community, and championing community-led solutions to key challenges. To support this agenda, Plymouth is asking Government for a shift in attitudes in order to support place based growth, and devolving budgets and responsibilities, including for skills and apprenticeships.

Sandwell Council – Supporting self-employment and boosting SME engagement. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Sandwell Council will develop Enterprise Hubs for self-employment and strengthen partnerships with the voluntary and community sector to maximise business engagement. Sandwell Council’s Enterprise Hub will provide a self-employment resource based within the local community. This will enable local residents to learn the practicalities of setting up a business and access business resources and support. Sandwell Council’s voluntary sector partnership will deliver an SME engagement programme to enable more businesses to access funding, finance and benefiting from wage subsidies available for recruitment.

Sunderland City Council – Work Discover: Strengthening relationships between schools and businesses. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Sunderland City Council is committing to engaging with 75 businesses to participate in Work Discovery Sunderland and offer to all Sunderland secondary schools the opportunity to participate in the programme to give local students an insight to the world of work in the City.

Work Discovery includes a range of activity such as career fairs, challenges, and workshops and helps forge new relationships and cement existing relationships between schools and businesses in the city.

To support this agenda, the Government should require all schools and academies to have at least one business representative on the governing body to support the agenda, and to support all schools and academies to enable all teaching staff to be given the opportunity of a professional development placement in industry and commerce to enhance their awareness of local economic opportunities.

Telford and Wrekin Council – Using the council’s role as ’employer’, ‘service provider’ and ‘broker’ to tackle youth unemployment. 

Click here to read the full pledge.

Telford and Wrekin Council is committing to tackling youth unemployment by holding a ‘Jobs and Skills’ Fair, supporting 360 young people into a positive destination through a range of interventions, providing 100 work experience placements and delivering 150 apprenticeships. This will be achieved through leveraging the council’s role as an ‘employer’, a ‘service provider’ and a ‘facilitator and broker’. To support this agenda, Government can address some of the systemic issues which act as a barrier to tackling youth unemployment, for example data sharing.

The Commission on Community Resilience, Jobs and Growth

The CCIN undertook a commission to examine cooperative approaches to employment support, skills and business growth. Chaired by Councillor Lib Peck, the commission ran from September 2014 to February 2015 and reviewed evidence of innovation and impact in local economies and proposed a creative place-based policy approach based on this evidence to increase the effectiveness of state spending on employment support.

The commission found that a cooperative approach, based on firm partnership with business and individuals, could help more workless people into jobs, at lower cost, increase small business growth to create thousands of jobs, and significantly increase private sector investment in employment and skills. The evidence gathered by the commission suggests that:

  • An impersonal, poorly designed system is systematically failing to recognise, and respond to, the needs of individuals. The Work Programme is not effectively supporting those that are hardest-to-help into sustainable employment.
  • Programmes related to skills, business support and local economic growth are far too centralised and fragmented, exacerbating skills shortages and constraining effective business and employer engagement.
  • Locally-led and cooperative approaches – which are co-designed, build on genuine partnership and unlock the assets of local places – can achieve significantly better economic and social outcomes. If the programmes we used for our economic analysis were applied nationwide, they could reduce the cost of employment support by 25 percent, create 90,000 jobs and increase the contribution of private sector developers to employment and skills by a factor of 15.

Click here to read the report of the commission.


To find out more about this campaign, follow us on Twitter at @coopinnovation or the hash tag #coopdevo. Alternatively, email [email protected]