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Plymouth to launch £1.2m co-operatives fund

Plymouth City Council has announced plans to a £1.2m fund to help local people set up co-operatives and mutuals.

The Co-operative and Mutuals Development Fund will be aimed at residents who join forces to meet common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

According to the council, 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 and others include CaterEd, Plymouth Energy Community, Plymouth Credit Union and Nudge Community Builders

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.

‘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,’ said cabinet member for housing and cooperative development,’ said Cllr Chris Penberthy.

Last November, the council announced a 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.

‘This is big stuff,’ added Cllr Penberthy. ‘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.”

Co-operatives UK’s head of Development Unit, James de le Vingne, said Plymouth is now a ‘hot-spot for social enterprise’ with real support at local government level.

‘To see that same support and drive with a co-op focus is fantastic to see. Plymouth City Council is showing incredible leadership in this area,’ said Mr de le Vingne.

‘We’ll continue to support the council and its partners to ensure this money is put to good use – to create successful, sustainable co-ops that are drivers for economic growth at a local level. But we don’t want to stop at Plymouth. Co-ops can help create stronger local economies across the UK and that’s why we’re working with other local authorities to replicate the success we expect to see in Plymouth.’

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart

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