Move Your Money- Can the Power of UK Coops Change Our Banking System?
Suma recently attended the annual ‘Future Coops’ conference in Swindon, where cooperatives enthusiasts gather to debate the future of coops. This year’s theme was “From 2 to 20; How to Grow the Cooperative UK Economy from 2% of GDP to 20%”.
But why 20%? According to researchers, when co-ops make up a fifth of an economy all sorts of good things start to happen. Crime rates fall, mental health improves, families become more stable, stress levels decrease, unemployment falls, small businesses become more common, wealth inequalities decrease… and so on.
This is because cooperatives appear to have a stabilising effect on the rest of the economy, meaning that private businesses can operate in a more reliable and predictable market. There is less stress on public services so the public sector is more able to cope with demand. Competition and consumer power improves because big corporations find it increasingly difficult to monopolise markets thanks to the high proportion of coops.
These ideas are based on observation of regional economies like those in Emilia Romagna in northern Italy and the Basque region of Northern Spain where very different types of co-ops make up 20 to 30% of the local economy. In Spain there is the giant Mondragon Cooperative Corporation of worker co-ops (Spain’s seventh largest industrial group). In Emilia Romagna it is a network of 8000 small co-ops, which underpin the rest of the economy.
Both regions enjoy exceptional economic and social performance. Similar improvements can be seen in countries like Argentina or Brazil, which have prioritised cooperatives as the core of economic development strategies.
The Future Coops conference delegates came up with ideas for how to activate various parts of the UK cooperative movement. One of the simplest actions was Move Your Money. If you, like many of us, are sick of the behaviour of the large banks, then move your money to a cooperative like the Cooperative Bank or your local credit union or building society.
See www.moveyourmoney.org.uk for more details on how you can help to change British banking.