Loomio
Wed 1 Aug 2018

Got a question? Need support?

Thread to post questions and requests for support. Access the collective wisdom of the Platform 6 community.

MSC

We're looking for someone to help develop the brand around Platform 6. Can you help?

AC

Austen Cordasco Wed 1 Aug 2018

Or some co-op...

LS

Leo Sammallahti Thu 8 Nov 2018

Hi everyone!

I'm involved in a platform cooperative that would need some help.

We have had two developers who we are in good terms with, but who cannot anymore contribute to the project for some time due to being busy with work. None of the people currently involved have any programming experience, and while we are sure we could find developers interested in contributing, it's very hard for us to help them get involved.

We would need someone with developer experience who could help us onboard other developers interested in contributing. I have 25 shares of ShareTribe, a stewardship company based in Finland co-founded by a platform coop enthusiast Juho Makkonen. I bought them for 20€/share, and would be happy to donate them to Platform6.

The project is called WeCo, a platform coop for discussion and link sharing similar to Reddit, with distinct tools such as polling and more sophisticated categorization. On Reddit r/geology and r/science are separate subreddits. On WeCo b/geology is a childbranch of b/science.

We'll be legally a cooperative soon, allowing equal co-ownership of the platform to all users, while keeping registering as an user free.

About WeCo:
* Introduction video and a video describing the features.
* How the democratic decision making works in WeCo and future feature proposals for more sophisticated polling tools and comment rating mechanisms.
* How WeCo currently enables global cooperative movement to share, rate, categorize and discuss content, and how it could develop in the future.
* Discord and/or Slack Group. Everyones welcome to join.

G

Graham Thu 8 Nov 2018

Hi Leo. So, it sounds you are looking for someone who can quickly get to grips with the current technology stack that WeCo is using, and who may be interested to potentially take a leadership role in WeCo with respect to the technical side of things, and who could attract and support others to build a new development team? Or have I misunderstood? Is the code on Github or similar such that someone could take a look at it? Is there any funding available for the role?

LS

Leo Sammallahti Thu 8 Nov 2018

We can most likely attract interested developers, but we would need someone who could help them contribute to the project. We do not ask for the person them self to do development work, but help others who want to contribute to do so. Our problem is that there are interested developers but it's hard for us as non-tech people to allow them to contribute.

We do have a github here.

We don't have much funding available currently unfortunately, but we could donate the ShareTribe shares alongside 300€/month, more later.

If this is totally disproportionate to the effort required, we understand it might not be appealing. We don't make any money out of the project, and will provide funding to the people doing and helping with the development as soon as we get funding.

G

Graham Fri 9 Nov 2018

I would argue that the people best placed to help new devs contribute to the project are the people that wrote the current codebase. They'll know it inside out, warts and all. You're saying that these people can't spare any time to do that, which is a shame. If you've not already done so, I'd encourage you to post something about this on the CoTech Discourse site - https://community.coops.tech. As we steadily build out Platform 6 in terms of members and systems/processes we'll be better able to offer assistance. In the meantime I'll check out the links you've posted about WeCo, and get a better insight into what it's aiming to achieve.

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Wed 5 Dec 2018

Hey, looking for advice or a bit of a steer on finding a legal structure which will work for an emerging, slightly unusual co-op model.

We are an activist translation collective that also functions as an agency. As an Open Coop we perform socially-oriented pro-bono and paid work. Both forms of work are tallied into credits. Care and reproductive work is valued and rewarded as highly as productive work.

Due to the innovative nature of the collective, including its operating as a distributed, digital cooperative, the established legal rules and forms may not apply. The result is that we aren't clear about our choices, their benefits and caveats, and so I am reaching out for help.
Most of our members have their (tax) residence in Spain, yet we are not happy with Spanish coop law. At the moment, I am the only UK based member. However, the collective is designed to be transnational and we are in contact with people from different countries wanting to join.
Our main questions at this stage are around the possibility of using a UK legal structure which would allow for a co-operative organisational form with members not necessarily based in the UK - what, if any, legal structures would be suitable for us and what limitations or restrictions would there be on things like the ability to take in funding, mutualize income, how taxation would work..

Any thoughts, comments, reflections, advice or signposting would be really appreciated.

Thanks,
Bronagh

G

Graham Thu 6 Dec 2018

Hi Bronagh. You'll be talking about Guerilla Translation. I know Guy James, who used to be involved there (I think he's moved on now), and Stacco of course. Lots of interest in your governance model.

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Thu 6 Dec 2018

I am, indeed, Graham. I'll tell Stacco you say hi! Yeah, Stacco, AnnMarie and lots of others have really worked on the governance model and now just needing a legal structure to fit.

JG

Jonny Gordon-Farleigh Wed 5 Dec 2018

Hey Bronagh, quick reply - if it's possible - would be for you to apply for fully funded place on 12 December's Worker Co-op: How to Get Started workshop in London, sponsored by Platform 6. More info: https://www.stirtoaction.com/blog/platform-6-fund

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Wed 5 Dec 2018

ahh, Jonny. Thanks so much for flagging this but I'm already at an event that day...drat. Bad timing! Will something similar be run in the future?

MSC

You sound like a classic co-operative consortium (the same as my co-op - Co-op Culture) There are several incorporated UK legal forms suitable for a consortium (Limited Liability Partnership, Company and Co-operative Society) It is possible to obtain mutual trading status, where the co-op pays no corporation tax as the members pay their own tax on their earnings. The co-op is "tax-transparent". Indeed HM Revenue and Customs have asked Co-op Culture not to submit a corporation tax return.

However exactly what the implications for transnational intra-co-op trade are I'm not sure. In theory we could have international members who deal with their own tax affairs and our co-op's UK tax affairs are unaffected.

There are several international tech co-ops, so they have doubtless dealt with this issue. Might be worth a question on the Co-Tech discourse forum. https://community.coops.tech/

More info. on UK legal forms here: https://www.uk.coop/resources/simply-legal

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Thu 6 Dec 2018

Amazing, Mark. Thanks. Yes, company limited by guarantee seems most promising at the moment. We were moving away from LLP as the tax on freelancers in Spain is massively disporportionate. However, I'm noting that you say 'it may be obtained' so the option to be taxed as company in UK remains open. Lots to pursue here. Thanks so much for getting back.

N

Norman Thu 6 Dec 2018

Bronagh a chara,
This sounds interesting. There is a European co-operative society model available which may be suitable (indeed it may be specifically designed for situations like yours.) The Rules would need to provide for your status as a citizen of a non-EU country... The rest would depend on a definition of employment/qualification as member.
If you would like to contact me at co-operation.works@phonecoop.coop we can clarify your needs and I can look up the implications of registration in various countries, including the UK.
Is mise le meas,
Norman Rides

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Thu 6 Dec 2018

Thanks so much, Norman. This is really helpful. I'll drop you a mail.

MSC

Bear in mind that the European Co-operative Society (SCE) needs 30,000 Euros in member share capital.. @norman6 (or anyone else) on a separate matter, do you have any experience of Irish Industrial and Provident Societies and whether than can transfer engagements to a UK Society or a SCE?

N

Norman Tue 11 Dec 2018

Irish IPS Law is UK IPS Law as it was pre-independence (and has not actually moved as fast as UK IPS Law, e.g. no BenSoc in Ireland.) I see no reason why they can't transfer engagements as it wasn't prohibited on independence. If in doubt companies would be taken as a comparator unless there were good reasons not to.

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Thu 6 Dec 2018

Yeah, I'd had a quick look at the 30k needed for SCE. Probably a little tricky.

N

Norman Tue 11 Dec 2018

The €30,000 is a minimum subscription, which only needs to be 25% paid up on incorporation, the rest can be saved over 5 years. Also it can be adjusted as members come and go so with ten members it would be €3,000 per member of which new members only need to pay €750. It reflects that the vehicle was intended to be used at scale, but not insuperable.

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Thu 6 Dec 2018

I'm also wondering if there are any thoughts on Brexit and how people anticipating it might (or might not) affect things?

G

Graham Thu 6 Dec 2018

Well if the Mogg-Johnsons get their way we'll become a bit like the Virgin Islands so may be a really attractive option for European-based co-ops - a low tax regime, and one of the most flexible legal frameworks for co-ops on the planet.

SWS

Yep the UK is a very legally permissive environment for coops. Re your methodology for valorising work, I know of no legal barrier to that.

BG

Bronagh Gallagher Fri 7 Dec 2018

Thanks for this, Graham. Interesting perspective as we werent quite sure whether detaching from Europe would make it harder or less practical to be registered here. Still, at least being the worlds biggest haven has some advantages.

N

Norman Tue 11 Dec 2018

I live near the almost-non-existent border. The line has been almost washed away by now. There are a few agro-co-ops with farmers with land on either, and sometimes both, sides of the border. They will need to legally disentangle after Brexit. (As well as disentangling all the collection rounds, delivery rounds, livestock transfer schedules, grazing schedules...) It would not be unusual in recent years for someone owning land straddling the border to remove the fencing or hedging and create one field for tillage or pasture. It's fun to watch Brexit hit reality...

E

Emma Mon 28 Jan 2019

Hi! I think this may be the most appropriate thread to ask this - we have been consistently getting the "why aren't you a charity" question from people. Apart from the fact that charitable governance directly contravenes our mission, which is very bound up with sharing power, I've started an evolving boilerplate response to this question. Can anyone point me in the direction of work that's been done on charities vis a vis co-ops and - more interestingly - anything on the 'charity mindset'. Ie you're setting up a charity to help people in need, which may or may not include an understanding of how people can help themselves (thank you very much). Something more anthropological which I think would get closer to the matter on why we decided to be a co-op, not a charity, even though none of us had had experience of co-operatives before all this fun started!

E

Emma Mon 28 Jan 2019

This is currently what's on our website and then I'm expanding on that in emails: "
"Although we are not a charity, our aims are exclusively charitable, which is why we're asking for donations. We considered very seriously registering as a charity but decided against it because charities cannot safeguard the rights of their beneficiaries and workers in the way that co-operatives can. We have made the people we support and the people who give support the owners of the company. It is illegal not to include them in decisions about the company. A charity keeps its decision-making power concentrated in its trustees and then consults. Even though it has beneficiaries that it exists for, it is not accountable to them and can ignore them if it wishes to. "

LS

Leo Sammallahti Mon 28 Jan 2019

Just a quick thought but often charity sort of implies a "hierarchical assumption" of some sort, where the person helping is "above" that who is helped.

Coops are more based on mutual help, not assymetric help, if that makes sense.

NBC

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Tue 29 Jan 2019

@emmaback You've hinted at one of the fundamental drawbacks of a charity which is that in general workers, sub-contractors or anyone else receiving payment from a charity cannot be Trustees and whilst beneficiaries CAN be Trustees, if they receive individual financial benefit from the charity this creates problems - unless that benefit is something all similar beneficiaries access. (Charities are also not allowed to provide preferential treatment for members)

AB

Alex Bird Mon 28 Jan 2019

Emma. have a look at Cartrefi Cymru, a long established LD care provider who have converted from a conventional charity to a co-operative whilst still keeping the charitable aims. http://www.cartrefi.coop
Also in Wales, Community Lives is a charitable Bencom with essentially co-operative rules https://www.communitylives.co.uk
Contacts there are Adrian Roper Jenny.hartles@cartrefi.coop and Rick Wilson rick.wilson@communitylives.co.uk
NB I've only given you Adrian's PA's email, as Adrian recently lost his daughter in a tragic train accident and is only just starting to return to work. Jenny will advise you on when he's OK to contact direct.

E

Emma Tue 29 Jan 2019

Thanks Alex, we're already in touch with Cartrefi (remember the Buurtzorg email exchange?) - I haven't spoken to community lives yet though, so thanks for Rick's details.

NBC

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Tue 29 Jan 2019

You can have "charitable aims" without being a charity. Charities have exclusively charitable aims. My discussions about charity versus co-op focus on the underlying principles that set up the relationship between users/beneficiaries and the organisation. Charities provide support to other people (historically established by the great and good to alleviate the suffering of others), co-ops are mutual self help solutions for ourselves. Charities exist for the public good, co-ops exist for member benefit.

E

Emma Tue 29 Jan 2019

Thanks for the replies! All these are great and are the reasons why we're a co-op rather than a charity in the first place. I'm looking more for fairly established authors who have written on this subject that I can quote.

NBC

Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Tue 29 Jan 2019

Some of the technical information (e.g. trustees not able to receive financial benefits) is published by the Charity Commission. I may be wrong but I think the historical (as in 19th C) basis of self help co-ops as an alternative to great and good benevolence to the poor through charities may have been covered in The Making of The English Working Class by E.P. Thompson but it's years since I read it. I am sure @bobcan will have a source you can quote

SWS

In case you haven't come across it, Coops UK's 'Simply Legal' guide to legal forms for coops and community enterprises also covers charities, is pretty well written and could be quoted as an authority: https://www.uk.coop/sites/default/files/uploads/attachments/simply-legal-final-september-2017.pdf

MSC

You can quote me Emma.

Co-operatives engage in mutual self-help where the beneficiaries own and control the organisation. Charities have a more paternalistic model where disinterested trustees oversee the deliver of benefit for a passive class of beneficiary. Both co-operatives and charities operate enterprises whose objects conform to one of the charitable heads, but in England it is not possible to be both. There are examples of orgaisations that would be better organised as co-operatives, but who opt for a charitable model for the tax benefits and in doing so limit their real impact.

I'd also like to agree with @nathan - co-ops are political undertakings to challenge the private capitalist model, whereas charities are sticking plasters, specifically excluded from political activity - they can deal with the fallout but may lose their charitable status if they point out the underlying cause of the needs they address.

E

Emma Wed 30 Jan 2019

We heard it here first - thank you Mark!