The Manchester-based Co-operative Group has announced to the publishers of the Co-op News magazine that it no longer wants copies of its publication, and will cut its unrestricted funds altogether.
The Group is reviewing the funds it supplies many members of the co-operative movement in the UK, and as part of this has communicated its intention to extensively cut funding to Co-operative Press. At present, the publishers and other constitutent members of the movement are supported through membership fees, subscriptions and memoranda of understanding.
The chair of Co-operative Press has expressed frustration at the way the announcement was conveyed to the producers of Co-op News. The Group said in a message to Co-operative Press they “no longer see the value of a regular print journal that is internal to the movement and that, from 2021, we will cease funding this service and also cease providing other unrestricted funding to Co-op Press.”
It intends to retain some budget for “[communicating] effectively with stakeholders,” but that unrestricted funds to Co-operative Press will be cut by 100%.
Barbara Rainford, Co-operative Press chair, said: “We fully understand the Group’s need to review its spending and appreciate it is making significant internal savings, but they are just one of our organisational members. We are frustrated by how this decision was made, its timing, and the lack of communication with the independent societies.”
The Co-operative Group is headquartered in Manchester’s NOMA at 1 Angel Square (above), with Co-operative Press based not far from this location with offices at Holyoake House on Hanover Street. This is also the base for Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative College, also part of the movement.
A movement titled ‘New Force’ was implemented in 2019 to help prevent the unnecessary overlap of responsibilities between Co-op Press, Co-operatives UK, the Co-operative College, Co-operative Heritage Trust and Co-op Party. This was closed in March 2020. According to Co-operative Press, they have undergone their own review and strategy process to ensure cost savings and income diversification.
Rainford said: “Although they have been delayed by Covid-19, each of these outcomes is being implemented. Over the last financial year, the proportion of the Group’s contribution to Co-op Press has been reduced by 22% through diversification of income”.