Local Government Review — May 2014: co-operating for mutual benefit

Since the current UK government was formed in 2010, it has been keen to promote industrial and provident societies (IPSs) and mutuals as part of the diversity of the UK economy. In July 2013 it published a consultation on reforming the law governing IPSs and in December 2013 it published its responses, which included introducing the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Bill into Parliament.

IPSs were introduced as a legal form by the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965. This created two types of co-operatively owned societies: co-operative societies (businesses owned and run by and for their own members) and community benefit societies (businesses operating for the benefit of their community, e.g. housing associations). The IPS structure, currently regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), remains popular in the UK, with more than 7,600 IPSs currently active and a membership of more than 15 million. They cover a wide range of businesses and industries, from public service mutuals to wind farms, football clubs to credit unions. The government wants to keep the unique features of the traditional IPS form so that the sector stays focused on serving its members and can contribute further to the success of the UK economy…

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