Owned and controlled by members and not shareholders, co-operative businesses share ownership, profits and control to remain stable and strong. The co-operative economy is designed to benefit members, to benefit society and to benefit the environment. It is therefore a key component of the alternative development model recommended by the Green New Deal.
In times of economic downturn, whilst the UK economy considers cuts and businesses react to the short term, the co-operative economy behaves differently. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of co-operatives in the UK grew by 23% to reach 5 933, and contribute £35.6bn to the UK economy.
While the United Nations has designated 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives, this annual report produced by Co-operatives UK - the trade association for co-operative and mutual businesses - presents an economic sector which needs to be strengthened in Europe and should play a key role as an alternative to austerity.