Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

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Capital Gains Tax? What a Relief!

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Capital Gains Tax? What a Relief!

On April 6th 2014, the UK Government will formally launch a range of tax incentives to help grow the employee ownership sector. There will be an exemption from income tax of £3,600 for certain payments made to employees of qualifying employee-owned companies, and the introduction of a relief from capital gains tax (CGT) for owners selling a controlling interest to a trust which operates for the benefit of all employees. Finally, a tax hook on which to promote employee ownership to those business owners considering their business succession options!!

Although the Centre is disappointed that direct forms of employee ownership, such as the worker co-operative model, have not been recognised, this is still a significant milestone for employee ownership. The tax incentives headline what has been a very busy 18 months of UK policy development in this area, stimulated in the main by the recommendations in the 2012 Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership, ‘Sharing Success ‘

To us at the Wales Co-operative Centre, employee ownership is an economic ‘no brainer’. Giving employees an ownership stake in a business changes their relationship with the business and encourages them to take a positive and proactive role in helping their company grow. Recent research by the Cass Business School supports this by showing that employee owned businesses are more stable and more resilient as a direct result of the employees gaining a real stake in the success of that business.

Here in Wales, we see employee ownership as a crucial succession option which can help keep jobs, business and skills in Wales. Unfortunately it is often the forgotten succession option, not being viewed as a mainstream idea by conventional business advisers. At the Wales Co-operative Centre, we have received support from Welsh Government and European Union Regional Development funding to implement employee ownership in Wales and are actively working with both businesses and advisers to put employee ownership firmly in the mainstream.

To mark the introduction of the new tax regime for employee ownership, the Wales Co-operative Centre is hosting a number of breakfast seminars looking at the benefits of employee ownership and how the new tax incentives can benefit business owners who would like to move on from the business.

The events in Cardiff, Carmarthen and Bodnant in North Wales will also consider the employee trust, how it fits with your business model, and the benefits of the model for the business owner and the employees. The seminars will be of interest to business owners interested in looking at their exit strategies and to business advisors who want to know more about the approach to advise their clients. To find out more click here.

In our view, tax should not be the sole driving factor to considering employee ownership. Many of our clients are driven by legacy, and see employee ownership as an approach that engages employees and puts them in charge of their own futures. It helps retain jobs and provides a platform for continued local business ownership and growth. However, having an additional incentive to help promote the employee ownership exit route is never a bad thing and we’ll be working hard to promote the new relief available to business owners here in Wales.

Let’s just hope those clever tax specialists don’t find some loophole which allows companies to abuse the incentive for purposes other than employee ownership, otherwise we could see it withdrawn from the market as quick as at arrived.

Further information can be found on the Wales Co-operative Centres Website

Places can be booked directly by calling the Centre on 0300 111 5050.

Rhian Edwards is manager of the ERDF and Welsh Government Business Succession project at the Wales Co-operative Centre. Her team works with micro-businesses and SME’s across Wales to develop employee ownership approaches and employee ownership based succession planning.


New ‘Tackling Poverty Fortnight’ campaign starts here – #povertyinwales

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Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign image

Over the next fourteen days, the Wales Co-operative Centre is inviting you to join a conversation about poverty in Wales, and what works to overcome it, or at least reduce its impact.

The headlines aren’t good.  The economy is flat-lining.  We have the biggest shake-up to the benefits system in 60 years.  Public spending is being cut whilst the need for public services is rising.  Some people are losing their jobs whilst others are facing pay freezes or reductions to their hours.   Prices, especially energy prices, continue to rise.  These events have a cumulative impact on families and communities in Wales, and poverty is often the consequence.

Yet amongst all of this there are real successes: stories of enterprises supported to create jobs in our most deprived communities, stories of people helped into work against the odds.  Stories of people empowered to save money and avoid debt.  We will be telling some of thesestories over the next couple of weeks.

For example, the Wales Co-operative Centre provides support to people who are digitally excluded, through leading the Welsh Government’s Communities 2.0 programme.  Getting online and developing digital skills can open doors to unimagined worlds.  Amongst other things, we have helped hundreds of people progress in the jobs market, and we will hear from some of them this fortnight.  The Centre also works to promote Financial Inclusion, for example by supporting people at risk of homelessness.  We help them manage their money more effectively and avoid debt.

Our work with social enterprises specifically targets those with the potential to grow and create more jobs.  We have worked with clients across Wales, getting national recognition for our recent work with AFS in Swansea, which provided sustainable employment for former Remploy workers.  The jobs created as a result of our work are quality employment opportunities, and the money made by the employing enterprises stays in the local community.

The impact of poverty on people in Wales makes it inappropriate to call this series of success stories a celebration.  It is, however, an acknowledgement that some things are working and that people are benefiting as a result.

We look forward to your response, to hearing your stories.  You can comment on the blog posts, or use #povertyinwales on Twitter.

Digital Inclusion is one of our most effective weapons in the fight against poverty

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Get Merthyr Tydfil Online launch

Get Merthyr Tydfil Online Launch: (Left to Right) Angela Jones – Communities 2.0, Derek Walker, Chief Executive Wales Co-operative Centre, Mike Owen, Chief Executive Merthyr Valleys Homes, Eleanor Marks, Welsh Government, Ian Benbow, Head of Service, Social Regeneration, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, looks at how digital inclusion, financial inclusion and social enterprise support work together to protect people from poverty and to mitigate against its impact.

Today is the launch of Get Swansea Online, a local initiative that aims to help Swansea’s estimated 45,000 digitally excluded residents to use the internet. This is the latest in a series of initiatives brokered by Communities 2.0, the Welsh Government digital inclusion project.

At yesterday’s launch of another initiative, Get Merthyr Tydfil Online, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty Jeff Cuthbert congratulated Communities 2.0 on its collaborative and partnership led approach. He emphasised the importance of helping people to get online and use the internet to save money and to find jobs. He stated that “digital exclusion compounds isolation” and said that Get Merthyr Tydfil Online has the potential to “reach the most digitally and financially excluded citizens” in the county. Last week the Minister visited a similar initiative in the Caia Park area of Wrexham. The political will is certainly there to ensure that everyone in Wales has access to the internet and the skills to use it effectively in the fight against poverty – but there is still more to be done.

We are very lucky here in the Wales Co-operative Centre. Through our work as lead partner of Communities 2.0, and through our own projects on financial inclusion and social enterprise development, we see the positive improvements our interventions can bring to the lives of people in real danger of falling below the bread line. Across Wales we see people, helped by Communities 2.0 and our financial inclusion initiatives, gain IT skills and use those skills to get jobs and get out of debt.  Communities 2.0 recently supported Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent MIND’s social enterprise arm ‘Training in MIND’ with an investment of nearly £5,000. The support will help pay for new laptop and desktop computers in their IT suite. The IT suite is manned by volunteers running drop-in sessions for people to update their IT skills and search for jobs. The organisation is currently setting up a work club for people who attend the centre. This is an excellent example of a social enterprise integrating digital inclusion and anti-poverty measures into its social aims and on the ground delivery.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we also see the difference in our communities when they are engaged and enabled and can build social enterprises that reinvest their surpluses back into training and job creation. Galeri Caernarfon Cyf is a social enterprise that is focussed on regenerating the town of Caernarfon. Over the years it has regenerated properties and spaces in the town and opened up a highly successful arts centre. It now employs 36 full time equivalent jobs directly and supports over 40 in its tenant businesses. It is estimated that this one social enterprise has an economic impact of almost £1.3m to the economies of Gwynedd and Ynys Môn. In fact, Galeri is among just 6% of firms in Gwynedd that employ more than 25 people.

The Wales Co-operative Centre receives funding from a number of different sources to allow us to deliver our support work to communities across Wales. Our funders include the European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government and the Oak Foundation.

This year, we have also led on a project which encourages individuals to use the services of local credit unions to help them ensure that their rent payment gets to their landlords – meaning that they can keep a roof over their own and their family’s heads. In Caerphilly, development staff are working directly with individuals to suggest ways in which they can use existing support and advice to make the money they have last longer.

We are also managing and promoting  which offers signposting to advice on saving and loans, debt and benefits. Access to digital resources is now intrinsically linked to good money management and to allowing individuals to take control of their own lives.

Financial and digital inclusion doesn’t just reduce isolation, but it allows freedom, liberty and empowerment. It allows individuals and groups to take their next steps forward – individually in the jobs market or as entrepreneurs, and collectively as empowered communities and social enterprises.

We believe that by integrating financial and digital inclusion with community engagement and real support for social enterprises and charities, it is possible to alleviate some of the poverty that currently exists in Wales. But, just as importantly, we believe that this sort of support is empowering. It allows people to make decisions about their own futures. It allows them to build their skills and their confidence and it empowers individuals to lift themselves out of poverty and stay out of it.

Get Merthyr Tydfil Online set to Soar!

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Zoar Chapel in Merthyr Tydfil has been a central part of life in the town since the middle of the 19th Century, long before the days of Facebook and Twitter. Yesterday, as Theatr Soar, it played host to an event that marked a new effort to help local people reap the benefits of digital technology.

Welsh Government Minister, Jeff Cuthbert

Welsh Government Minister, Jeff Cuthbert

The launch event for ‘Get Merthyr Tydfil Online’ was attended by representatives of organisations that will be involved in the campaign, working in partnership. Communities 2.0 – the Welsh Government’s digital inclusion programme – organised the launch with colleagues in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Merthyr Valley Homes.

Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, reiterated the fact that the Centre is the lead partner in Communities 2.0 and that the programme is doing vital work in supporting individuals, organisations and small enterprises to do more with digital technologies. Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty in Welsh Government, attended the event and said how not being online ‘restricts opportunities to improve lives’. This was borne out in a video that was played to the audience, telling the story of Deborah Price who secured a job after volunteering with Communities 2.0 in Merthyr Central Library.

We were given a tour of the Get Merthyr Tydfil Online website, an insight into digital inclusion work in social housing from Merthyr Valley Homes, with closing comments from Cllr. Phil Williams – Deputy Leader of Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council – who cited the value of partnership working in the campaign.

Stephanie Davies and Angela Jones of Communities 2.0 address the event

Stephanie Davies and Angela Jones of Communities 2.0 address the event

To round off the morning, we were given an opportunity to meet members of a local Job Club who had been attending computer classes, supported by Communities 2.0. One of the learners, Mark, told me why he wanted to learn more: “I’d been referred to the classes by my local Job Centre. It encouraged me to try something new, as I’d used computers for shopping online, downloading music and talking to people on Skype, but not for finding work or getting more qualifications. I’ve recently started an ECDL course. I’m hoping that all these courses and classes will lead to long-term employment for me and a better future. I’d even love to have a job in computers”.

Social enterprise the way to quality jobs and reduced poverty

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The Wales Co-operative Centre today responded to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on poverty in Wales, by calling for continued support to social enterprises as a foundation of economic regeneration.

The JRF report identified that 23% of the Welsh population live in poverty. Whilst the overall percentage has changed little in the last ten years, what is new is the extent of in-work poverty, particularly amongst families where members work part-time. The in-work poverty problem is worst in rural Wales: the West, North-West and East. The report suggests that, for some, the way out of poverty could be to work longer hours. But there is also an issue with the quality of jobs available, particularly with the rise of minimum wage, zero hours contracts, with few opportunities for advancement.

This is where social enterprises and co-operatives come in. With their roots often firmly in local communities and a purpose that goes beyond generating profits for the business owners, social enterprises can focus on the quality of employment opportunities they offer to people. Trading surpluses are invested in the business, making social enterprises more likely to grow and increase the number of jobs they offer. By investing in support to social enterprises, Wales benefits both in terms of increasing employment and the quality of those jobs.

The Wales Co-operative Centre provides business support to social enterprises across Wales to help them grow. For example, we are helping the Roman Fort Project, which is a heritage and conservation enterprise in Flintshire. There will be education and experiential learning in different areas including archaeology, ancient and modern build techniques, walking, bird watching, environment, fishing, diving, water sports and agriculture, including rare varieties of herbs, trees and crops. We are providing business planning and financial forecasting support for the enterprise, which could see 18 new jobs created.

The JRF report is a timely reminder of the need for dedicated business support work for the social enterprise sector to continue through the next phase of EU funding.

New Minister marks launch of Get Neath Port Talbot Online

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Congratulations to Get Neath Port Talbot Online, the latest strategic initiative from the Welsh Government’s Communities 2.0 programme, which is led by the Wales Co-operative Centre.  Get NPT Online was launched by Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Jeff Cuthbert at Briton Ferry library this week.


Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, at the launch with members of the Briton Ferry Photographic Club.

Designed to tackle poverty by overcoming barriers to work, the initiative has challenging targets for helping people become confident in using computers, and in finding work online.

Through the Communities 2.0 programme, Wales Co-operative Centre staff have brokered a partnership between NPT Homes, Coastal Housing and the local Communities First organisation, to target support at those in greatest need.  Front line staff of all the partner organisations will be trained to help their clients take the first steps towards getting online.  This will be backed up by focussed training and support from a team of volunteers.  People who were previously excluded from job opportunities through lack of skills will set up their own e-mail addresses, develop online CVs and learn how to search job sites.  As a result, they will become included as part of the modern world.

Katy, Rachel and Kevin - the Get NPT Online Outreach Team.

Katy, Rachel and Kevin – the Get NPT Online Outreach Team.

The beauty of Get NPT Online is that it is a genuinely local response to the problems of poverty, worklessness and social exclusion.  It works with the community, not on it.  Get NPT Online is sustainable, because digital inclusion will be embedded in the working practices of the partner organisations.

Across Wales, the Wales Co-operative Centre is delivering programmes in communities that have a tangible economic benefit.  Thanks to funding from the Welsh Government and European Regional Development Fund, people in Neath Port Talbot have a head start.

And the winners are…

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North Wales Social Enterprises scoop the 2012 Social Enterprise Awards Wales

Three North Wales social enterprises have won categories in this years Social Enterprise Wales Awards which took place today (Friday 19th October) at the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn.

The awards were hosted by Wales Co-operative Centre and Wales Social Enterprise Coalition and was sponsored by not for profit internet registry company Nominet.

The full list of winners reads as follows:

Kelly Davies, Managing Director, Viability , Conwy; winner of the Social Enterprise Leader of the Year award with Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

Kelly Davies, Managing Director, Viability, Conwy; winner of the Social Enterprise Leader of the Year award with Wales  Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

Social Enterprise Leader of the Year 

Kelly Davies of Vi-ability

Kelly Davies has been Managing Director of Vi-ability for nearly three years. Kelly has succeeded in positioning Vi-ability as one of the leading personal development/employment facing sport industry programmes in UK and Europe for socially disadvantaged participants It produces consistently positive outcomes in relation to engagement, retention and progression.

Kelly was delighted to win the award, “I’m overwhelmed! I really didn’t expect to win after our success in these Awards last year. It shows that we haven’t stood still and we’re still doing something right!”

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker , with Mac McCarthy and Barry Roberts from the North Wales Credit Union, Social Enterprise Start Up of the Year Winner

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker, with Mac McCarthy and Barry Roberts from the North Wales Credit Union, Social Enterprise Start Up of the Year Winner

Social Enterprise  Start up of the Year – North Wales Credit Union

North Wales Credit Union is a financial co-operative which provides a wide range of ethical financial services across North Wales. Regulated by the Financial Services Authority, it is the fourth largest financial mutual in Wales. It was formed in January 2011 through the merger of five credit unions. Since then it has been  looked to as a model of excellence by credit unions and policymakers from across the UK.

Mac McCarthym from the North Wales Credit Union, commented, “Wow! From our persepective, this award is fantastic. Creating North Wales Credit Union took 18 months of really hard work by both staff and volunteers, and we’re accepting this Award on their behalf.”

Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year – St Illtyd’s Communities First Partnership

Anna Chard, St Illtyds Communities First Partnership , Abertillery, Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year Winner, Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan and Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

Anna Chard, St Illtyds Communities First Partnership, Abertillery, Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year Winner, Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan and Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker

St Illtyds Communities First is part of a Welsh Government anti-poverty campaign which has been established for 10 years.  The team consists of 5 individuals who are dedicated to supporting and encouraging initiatives that make positive changes to the social economy. They work in Llanhilleth Institute supporting communities from Brynithel, Swffryd, Aberbeeg and Llanhilleth. St Illtyd’s Communities First has been responsible for starting up and supporting 3 social enterprises and creating 16 jobs in a socially deprived area of Wales.

Anna Chard from St Illtyd’s Communities First Partnership stated, “Its a real honour to accept this Award on behalf of the Communities First Partnership Board, the staff team and the social enterprises we support.”

Social Enterprise Supporter of the Year – Special Mention

The City & County of Swansea, Housing Renewals & Adaptations Department was singled out for a special mention as an example of a Local Authority who have made a major contribution to supporting the development of a social enterprise. City & County of Swansea has provided support and been available to reflect, counsel and steer changes to other organisations that resulted in the development of social enterprises such as Swansea Care & Repair Services.

Sharon Jones, Chief Executive , Crest Co-operative ,Llandudno Junction, Social Enterprise of the Year Winner with Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan

Sharon Jones, Chief Executive , Crest Co-operative ,Llandudno Junction, Social Enterprise of the Year Winner with Wales Co-operative Centre Operations Director Nia Wright Morgan

Social Enterprise of the Year – Crest Co-operative

Crest Co-operative operates a number of recycling enterprises including , a food poverty project that distributes in-date food from food manufacturers to the homeless and vulnerable across North Wales; a textile recycling operation throughout Conwy County Borough Council; and finally Crest Co-operative work with North Wales housing associations to clear empty properties and save kitchens/bathrooms from landfill. Crest Co-operative’s work primarily focuses on social and environmental purposes, working to promote social inclusion and at the same time work to save materials and food from landfill. Sharon Jones from Crest Co-operative recieved the award,  “I’m speechless. This is a real surprise and its great to win such as prestigious award.”

Wales Co-operative Centre Chief Executive Derek Walker commented, “The quality of nominations this year demonstrated not only the breadth and versatility of the sector but the importance the sector has to communities across Wales. The judges this year had a tough task deciding between a number of very dedicated people and a number of extremely deserving nominees. The winners chosen demonstrate an impressive  commitment to their area of expertise and a level of service that is outstanding. We congratulate Crest Co-operative, St Illtyd’s Communities First Partnership, North Wales Credit Union and Kelly Davies and all of the other excellent social enterprises who were shortlisted.”

Not for profit Internet registry company Nominet sponsoredthe Social Enterprise Awards Wales 2012. Nominet run one of the world’s largest Internet registries and manage over ten million domain names. They are entrusted with the safe, stable and secure management of the .uk Internet name space and recently submitted applications for the new .cymru and .wales top level domains. For more information visit

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