Cross party group on co-operatives and mutuals
The Cross Party Group brings together Assembly Members and other interested stakeholders from across Wales to discuss the development and growth of co-operatives in Wales.
See this page in: Cymraeg
The group holds regular meetings where different topics are discussed in detail with a range of expert speakers. For more information on the Group and to sign up for alerts about future meetings, please contact the Wales Co-operative Centre’s marketing team.
- Vikki Howells AM (Chair)
- Suzy Davies AM
- John Griffiths AM
- Mike Hedges AM
- Mark Isherwood AM
- David J Rowlands AM
Bank closures are having a detrimental impact on access to banking services for individuals, communities and SMEs across Wales. Office for National Statistics figures show that nearly 6000 local branches across the UK have shut since 2010, with around 13 million adults in the UK now living in areas where at least half of the local banks and building societies have closed.
Bank closures may disproportionately harm certain consumer groups such as older people or people in low-income communities. Branch closures are also negatively affecting small businesses’ access to banking services.
Against this backdrop, the First Minister’s leadership manifesto included a pledge to create a new ‘Community Bank of Wales’ to ensure banking services are available across the country, including rural areas.
A group of organisations and activists has already formed a co-operative society that will deliver Banc Cambria, a community bank for Wales.
At the meeting we heard about progress with the Welsh community bank and how it will operate as well as about how co-operative community banks are being established across the UK.
Guest speakers included:
- Rebecca Nelson, Director and Secretary of Banc Cambria.
- Derek Walker, Chair of Banc Cambria board.
- Tony Greenham, South West Mutual. South West Mutual has been formed to establish the first ever member-owned high street bank dedicated to the residents and small businesses of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.
Procurement activity in Wales could deliver greater value and better contribution to the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Social businesses, such as co-operatives and mutuals, can play an important role in delivering wider social value and quality. However in the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Social Business Mapping Report in 2017, social businesses reported a decrease in business with public bodies.
There are opportunities to reform procurement in Wales offered by the Well-being of Future Generations Act and Social Services and Well-being Act. Wales’ new First Minister has also pledged to invest in a new pan-Wales public sector training programme for ethical procurement.
The meeting explored how procurement could be reformed and how they can work together to influence procurement processes in Wales. The Group heard from guest speakers Cllr Chris Weaver and Steven Robinson from Cardiff City Council, Allison Soroko from Merthyr Valley Homes, Julia Holston Clark from Wales Restorative Approaches Partnership (WRAP) and Rhian Edwards from Social Business Connect.
The Well-being of Future Generations Act has given Wales an ambitious legislative framework on which to improve our social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being. The work of co-operative and mutual organisations in Wales fits squarely with the provisions of the Act.
The group heard from Cliff Mills on how the values of co-operatives and the co-operation embody the values of the Act. It also heard from co-operatives themselves about how their work delivers the Act’s well-being goals and ways of working. These include:
- Adrian Roper, Cartrefi Cymru Co-operative
- Sam Dabb and Gary Inight, Le Public Space
- Mark Hooper, IndyCube
How can co-operatives play a role in the development of the Welsh agricultural sector? With Brexit on the horizon, the agri-food sector faces new challenges and opportunities. What role can co-operatives play in helping to sustain and develop the sector through Brexit?
The meeting focused on ‘Co-operative development in the Welsh agri-food sector’, a new research report from Social Business Wales. It explores these issues, looks at best practice and makes recommendations to develop co-operatives and co-operation in the agri-food sector in Wales. The report’s author, Jon Parker, was the main speaker and the Group discussed ideas for developing co-operatives in the Welsh agri-food sector.
The Welsh Government reiterated their commitment to developing more renewable energy projects in their Programme for Government. How can co-operative and mutual community groups lead the way on this? The Group heard from guest speaker, Dan McCallum of Awel Co-op. Awel have won a number of awards for their pioneering work. He provided vital insight into their experience of developing renewable energy projects, what lessons we can learn and what more can be done to support co-ops and mutuals interested in developing similar schemes.