Nick Eyre: The Co-operative Group: The risk of a management-led oligarchy

The Co-operative Group with its ground breaking history is in the middle of a root and branch constitutional review. Not only those involved  in the Co-operative sector, but all who value the present diversity of ownership models in the UK economy should regard the success of this review as  important .

Read more Nick Eyre: The Co-operative Group: The risk of a management-led oligarchy

European Manifesto calls for action to empower mutual and cooperative insurers

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 14.14.22AMICE, the European Association of Mutual Insurers and Insurance Cooperatives has published a political manifesto entitled “United in Diversity” laying out the sector’s proposal for political action to enable the sector to fully exploit its potential.  The manifesto has been produced by UK based advocacy organisation, Mutuo, on behalf of AMICE members.

The European Mutual Manifesto was presented in Nice, France, by AMICE President Hilde Vernaillen to the 200 delegates at the association’s 2014 Congress.

Read more European Manifesto calls for action to empower mutual and cooperative insurers

Mutuals’ Redeemable and Deferred Shares Bill

Redeemable-shares-14We need your help: contact your MP

The Mutuals Redeemable and Deferred Shares Bill will have its first reading on Thursday 5th June.

Use the form below to contact your MP to ensure that they help the Bill through Parliament by encouraging the Government to make time for debate.

Afterwards you will also be able to contact a Member of the House of Lords to ensure that they support the Bill too.

To contact to your MP, or a Member of the House of Lords, about the Bill, please click here.

Making The Board Accountable


It is important that delegates at tomorrow’s Co-operative Group Special General Meeting vote in favour of a resolution that will start a process of reform.  But it is important that that process of reform addresses a fundamental weakness in the proposals put forward in the Myners report.

The central proposal is to create a new board which, like the board of directors of a company, can exercise all the powers of the organisation.  But company law contains a statutory right for shareholders to remove directors, a right that cannot be varied in the articles or by any agreement.  Industrial and provident society (IPS) law contains no equivalent statutory right. The appointment of an all-powerful board must therefore be underpinned by appropriate checks and balances.

Read more Making The Board Accountable

The Myners Report: a response

Nobody can seriously argue that there have not been very serious failures at the highest level in the oversight, stewardship and management of the Co-operative Group’s affairs.  Nor can it be disputed, in my view, that the Group’s democratic structures and processes are dysfunctional.

Where there is scope for very serious discussion is in how to reform the current constitutional arrangements.

The publication of the Report of the Independent Governance Review by Paul Myners on 7th May, with a Special General Meeting taking place on 17th May, leaves woefully inadequate time to digest this 182 page document which contains much very serious and thoughtful material.  It deserves and needs to be digested if the right decisions are going to be made.

I do not believe that they will be, if voting in favour of the current resolution at next Saturday’s members meeting provides a green light for the implementation of the proposals contained in the Myners review; because I believe that those proposals will result in the society ceasing to be a co-operative owned and controlled by its members.

Read more The Myners Report: a response

Co-operative Group Governance: Getting it right, by Cliff Mills


If this was not already beyond doubt, the results just published demonstrate that this is an extremely challenging time for the Co-operative Group. In such circumstances it is important that there is some clarity for those having to make difficult decisions over the coming weeks and months. That is the context in which the following views are put forward.

Read more Co-operative Group Governance: Getting it right, by Cliff Mills

Reviewing Co-operative Governance

The Co-operative Group Constitutional ReviewLord Myners is currently reviewing the governance structure of the Co-operative Group.  This is not the first review – Mutuo contributed to such a project in 2007.  Of course the context was different from today, but many of the key issues around co-operative business governance remain the same.

Today, Mutuo is re-publishing its report for the 2007 Review, called ‘21st Century Pioneers.’  It was drafted by a range of experts in co-operative business structures, including Cliff Mills, Ian Snaith, Peter Hunt and a range of academics.

Read more Reviewing Co-operative Governance

Time to get tough on football authorities, say MPs

Parliamentary group mutuals

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Mutuals has called on the Government to take urgent action to improve the way that football club owners behave towards supporter groups.

In a report that is critical of the attitudes the Football Association, Premier League and Football League exhibit towards the ownership of clubs, MPs have called for them to be directed to protect the interests of supporters.

Read more Time to get tough on football authorities, say MPs

Mutuo confirms its presence at International Summit of Cooperatives


Mutuo has confirmed its presence at the International Summit of Cooperatives Exhibition to be held in Quebec in October 2014.

Mark Willetts said: “We are delighted to be attending the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives. For us this is a unique opportunity to meet once again with some of the leading global businesses in the mutual and co-operative sector, to share ideas and strategies for growth. We are particularly pleased to be taking part in the international exhibition which promises to be even bigger and better than the 2012 Summit.”

Mutuals Yearbook 2013

Mutuals' Yearbook 2013Since 2008 when the Mutuals Yearbook was first published, the world around us has changed significantly. It is clear that all mutual organisations have endured a difficult economic climate in which to operate. Our members have had their own pressures and have had to face some searching questions about the soundness of the mutual model.

However, the sector has continued to grow both in terms of the numbers employed (970,000 in UK in 2013 compared to 844,000 in UK in 2008) and income (increasing from £84bn in 2008 to £115bn in 2013). These figures are a testament to the people who work in the mutual sector, but more importantly, to the fact that many people still uphold the principles of co-operation and mutuality. Read more Mutuals Yearbook 2013

2014 International Summit of Co-operatives

The International Summit of Co-operatives is a biennial gathering where leaders of cooperative and mutualist enterprises get together to discuss their concerns about the current and future business challenges they all share.

The next summit is being held in Quebec City from October 6-9th & Mutuo will be taking part.

Raising New Capital in Mutuals: Taking Action in the UK

New capitalBy their very nature, mutuals are limited in how they can raise capital. Like all businesses, they can retain profits and can borrow against future earnings, but they have no equity shareholders and so do not have access to this type of prime capital.

These restrictions are well known and mean that the debate around capital in mutuals is not new. To date however, in the UK at least, mutuals have not made significant alterations to their basic capital framework, which was designed more than 150 years ago.

Read more Raising New Capital in Mutuals: Taking Action in the UK