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Rural communities are ‘most co-operative’ in the UK

Rural communities including the Scottish islands and Cumbria are the ‘most co-operative’ places in the UK, according to a new report.

The list of most co-operative places forms part of the Co-op Economy report – which examines of the co-operative sector across the UK.

Produced by trade body Co-operatives UK, it reveals that the nation’s 7,215 co-ops have a turnover of more than £37.7bn, up £400m on the previous year. And more than 13 million members of co-ops own and have a say in how these businesses operate.

The report also finds that co-operative business model remains resilient, with almost three out of four co-op start-ups (72%) still flourishing after the difficult first five years of existence.

The top three most co-operative places are in the Scottish Isles, and the most co-operative region is the North East, according to the report.

The report highlights the work of Papay Community Co-operative which is a member-owned business on Papa Westray, one of the most northerly of the Orkney Islands. Run entirely by local people, the co-op operates the island’s only shop as well as a 20-bed hostel.

Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK Secretary General, said: ‘When needs are so acute in remote and rural areas there’s a necessity and greater impetus for people to work together. There’s strength in being able to rely on others, on being part of a co-op.

‘The model is just as relevant in inner-city Glasgow or central London as it is in the Outer Hebrides. The entire UK economy could learn a lot from the extraordinary success of the Scottish isles and rural Cumbria – particularly in today’s climate.’

Photo Credit – Co-operatives UK.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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