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Greater Manchester launches co-operatives commission

Greater Manchester has founded a new co-operatives commission to boost the involvement of co-ops and social enterprises in the city region.

The city’s inaugural Co-operative Commission, chaired by Rochdale council leader Cllr Allen Brett, will make policy recommendations to support the development of the co-operative movement in the city.

It has also been tasked with looking how co-operatives can help fulfil the Greater Manchester Strategy, which outlines the future ambitions for the city region.

Ways in which the independent Commission hopes that co-operatives can benefit Greater Manchester include helping to reduce inequality and improving education and employment.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: ‘As the home of the co-operative movement, it’s vital we harness those values and put them at the centre of everything we do, working with co-operatives and social enterprises to build a stronger, fairer Greater Manchester where nobody is left behind.

‘Through the work of the Commission, we have an opportunity to do things differently and explore new and innovative ways to nurture, grow and work more closely with the co-operative sector so it plays a central role in making Greater Manchester one of the best places in the world to grow up, get on and grow old.’

Greater Manchester is famously the home of the co-operative movement in the UK, dating back to the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers founded in 1844.

160,000 people in Greater Manchester are already members of a co-op and co-operatives collectively contribute £73m to the city region’s economy.

Co-operatives in the city region include credit unions, ten housing co-operatives and retail, although they are quickly growing in sectors such as digital and green technology.

The Commission will focus on four areas in which co-ops can support the Greater Manchester Strategy, those being housing, digital, transport and co-operative business development.

The Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network, which is involved in the commission, called the Co-operative Commission ‘trailblazing’ and said it will help Greater Manchester deliver ‘radical and innovative’ programmes.

The network’s chair Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE said: ‘The Co-operative Councils’ Innovation Network is delighted to be involved in this trailblazing Commission.

‘Greater Manchester is asking for a call to evidence with an ambition to reclaim the traditions of community action, community engagement and civic empowerment which can transform communities.

‘The aim is to help deliver radical and innovative programmes that are designed, led and delivered in partnership with communities and therefore maximise the economic and social dividend they bring. Our members are well-placed to provide such evidence.’

The Commission is currently calling for evidence of the benefits of businesses run co-operatively as well as the particular challenges they face.

People can share their experiences of co-operatives by responding to the call for evidence here.

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