Our new report An alternative is possible: Measuring the impact of cooperatives puts forward a new framework for measuring the value that cooperative organisations deliver to local economies.

The democratic, sustainable and community-minded nature of cooperatives means they often deliver intrinsic value to their members and wider communities, above and beyond more traditional business models.

Yet their impact is missing from traditional models of appraising economic and social value used in government procurement at all levels.

To address this, IPPR North have developed an alternative framework for measuring the value of cooperatives.

The framework aims to help capture:

  • The economic resilience and sustainability inherent in the coop model
  • The benefits of economic democracy and member participation
  • The role of co-ops in driving innovation and inclusivity in employment practices,
  • Their role in providing education, skills and training, and the wider collective solidarity benefits inherent in the cooperative movement.

The way we measure economic activity shapes the policy interventions we make. Yet co-ops do more than simply contribute to economic growth.

Capturing and prioritizing the wider benefits co-ops deliver as part of the procurement process could help deliver more rounded and holistic outcomes that benefit communities more effectively.

The report argues that expanding the scale of the cooperative sector is crucial to the task of creating more resilient and pluralistic local economies which drive this wider community benefit. The report recommends that:

  • The framework be rolled out for wider testing with a view to refining and improving it further.
  • The framework be offered as a tool for co-ops to use to make their case to local policy actors about the wider impacts co-ops bring.
  • Local policy actors consider wider forms of impact like those set out in the framework when procuring, setting out economic strategies, and designing local investment programmes.
  • The broader understanding of value and impact set out in this report and the framework should contribute to wider thinking about measuring local economies beyond jobs and GVA.

An alternative is possible: Measuring the impact of cooperatives, is here.