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Cooperative Council

“Give up your time to help your community and earn credit to spend in shops”

People who give up their time to help out in their community could earn financial credits to spend in local shops or leisure facilities, under plans being developed in Lambeth.

The idea is a key recommendation of the Lambeth Cooperative Council Citizens’ Commission, which published its report this week into how Lambeth should pursue its aim of becoming the country’s first Cooperative Council. Lambeth announced last year that it was developing a Cooperative model for public services in order to give local people more say in how local services are run.

Under the plans, people who do voluntary work that benefits their community, for example at a local children’s centre or residential care home, would earn credits at a ‘Lambeth Co-operative Council Time Bank’ which they could use to get discounts a range of services such as leisure and cultural services. In addition the Commission has also proposed linking these credits to an expanded Brixton Pound, an initiative of Transition Town Brixton. Residents who convert their credits into this borough-wide currency would then be able to use this to pay from good and services from local businesses, thereby supporting Lambeth’s local economy.

Such a scheme could especially benefit people who are out of work, enabling them to make a positive contribution while developing news skills and getting a financial reward for doing so, however it would be open to everyone.

Other key recommendations of the Commission include a radical new approach to the way public services are designed with citizens and the council, working together in partnership, which will enable a wider range of organisations to come forward to deliver local services: these could include co-operatives, social enterprises, local businesses, community and voluntary groups and staff mutual’s.

Cllr Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council, and chair of the Commission, said: “Our plans for a Cooperative Council are about creating a new settlement between citizens and the state. More than just volunteering, it is about finding new ways in which citizens can participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

“I welcome the publication of this report as it will provide the cornerstone for the development of the Cooperative Council over the coming months and years.”

The report of the Cooperative Council Commission follows months of research into how the council can encourage more people to play an active role in their communities, and how the council and local people can work together to design and deliver services that better meet people’s needs.

An expert panel of Coop Commissioners gathered evidence from over 130 local and national organisations and 3,000 individuals through surveys, focus groups, road shows, conferences with citizens and local organisations, community-led People’s Expos and a Co-operative Council road show. Delegates including academics, think tanks, research organisations, voluntary and community sector organisations, private and public sector organisations attended hearings to provide their views on the Cooperative Council.

This evidence was considered by the Commission and was used to develop the ideas set out in the Co-operative Council White Paper, into a clearer and more detailed set of proposals.

The council will now consider the suggestions in more detail and consult further on the Commission findings. Lambeth’s Cabinet will consider the findings next week.

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