As of the 1st August 2014, co-operative societies in the UK shall be recognized as such under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014.

The new Act is intended to make it easier to form a co-operative society in the UK.  Until now co-operatives in the UK were regulated by various pieces of legislation which led to this consolidation following a Conservative Government initiative.  This initiative was triggered in 2012 during the International Year of Co-operatives.

This piece of legislation is thought to be an opportunity to create a level the playing field for co-ops and mutuals and to encourage the creation of new co-ops in order that they may develop further as  key players in the UK’s society and economy. The Act shall help to create a simplified registration process, thus reducing costs for both new and existing co-operative societies.

It is estimated that there are 5,450 co-operative enterprises in the UK with an average annual turnover of £33 billion (circa €41.5) .

Currently the Maltese Government is revising the Co-operative Societies Act, Cap. 442 which is expected to be passed through Parliament by the end of 2015.

The Malta Co-operative Federation has on a number of occasions recommended to government that the minimum number of physical persons forming a co-operative society should be three and not five, as the current legislation stands today.  The EU Member States that now allow three members to form a co-operative are Austria, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Slovenia and Croatia.  The most recent Federation’s document of recommendations is entitled “Recommendations on changes to the Maltese Legislation effecting Co-operative Societies 2014“.

Rolan Micallef Attard – CEO, Malta Co-operative Federation