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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

A new wave of co-operatives is needed to help workers through the current crisis

Ask yourself: When was the last time that the co-operative movement was mentioned alongside the unions and the Labour Party as an instrument for change in Britain? What is the co-operative movement doing to help individuals through the cost-of-living crisis? 

Consumer co-operation has always been a simple concept, not too dissimilar to a not-for-profit corporation. Society members pool their resources in order to purchase goods and services in bulk, thus making a saving, which is then reinvested in the society, with an agreed amount distributed among members in accordance to the amount they have purchased and how much they have invested. 

In the 1840s, one of the aims of the original Rochdale co-operative movement was to alleviate the poverty of the workers. In communities across the country, many people have lots of the same problems. There isn’t enough work to go around. Private sector housing is of poor quality and the rents are high. Income does not cover their expenses due to increases in food and utility prices. There is a lack of access to good, fresh food. 

And anyway, a high percentage of individuals on Universal Credit have a job. If the cost-of-living crisis has proven anything, it has shown that our prosperity is very superficial and dependent on consumer items being available at a low price. People need help now, and it is doubtful that the current Conservative-led government has the inclination to provide adequate support. One possible answer is for people to start co-operative societies. These sorts of institutions were often the backbone of the real Big Society, the local institutions which offered so many an organised community life.

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