Share

Make mutuals mainstream, urges taskforce

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office
News

Make mutuals mainstream, urges taskforce

Governance | Jonathan Last | 25 Jun 2012

A Cabinet Office taskforce has released a glowing report on mutuals, describing the business model as “high quality” and recommending that the process of forming them be made easier.

In its report launched today at the London School of Economics in London, The Mutuals Taskforce recommends that establishing a mutual be made a mainstream option for public service delivery, and it advocates that certain barriers  be removed in order to make this happen.

Specifically, the taskforce wishes new mutuals to be exempt from EU procurement regulations; for them to have full implementing rights, with clear pathways and appeals processes; training and guidance to be provided for public service commissioners; and calls for an analysis of investment opportunities in mutuals to be made by Big Society Capital.

The Mutuals Taskforce was established in February 2011 by minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude (pictured). It is chaired by Professor Julian Le Grand and made up of figures from public policy, employee ownership and business.

The report shows that since 2010 the number of public service mutuals has increased from nine to at least 58 with, some 40 projects in the pipeline. In addition, the number of services provided by mutuals has increased, from an initial four – health, social work, education and leisure – to twelve, including fire services, housing and libraries.

The report also finds improvements to the conditions and well-being of staff, as well as improvements to service quality, efficiency and effectiveness.

In December 2011 the Cabinet Office began a £10m support programme for staff-led mutuals emerging from the public sector.

Mutuals not a fantasy

“This is no utopian fantasy,” insisted Le Grand. “Mutuals deliver higher quality services at lower cost to tax-payers. So it’s with some jubilation that I can report a movement, led by truly entrepreneurial public servants, has taken root and is growing.

“But we simply cannot rely on there being enough exceptional leaders to make this a mainstream delivery option. The path to mutualisation must be made easier.”

Le Grand explained how public service mutuals develop differently to other SMEs, often becoming businesses overnight. He emphasised how this must be reflected in new regulation, new investment and greater support.

“But, most importantly, we are calling for change inside the public sector,” Le Grand continued. “The will to develop mutuals and improve public services is there at the very top of government and on the frontline. But too often there is a gulf in the middle where risk-averse managers, ignorant of the benefits, impede progress.”  

Francis Maude thanked the taskforce for its recommendations, and added his own comments. “Frontline staff are the real experts: they know what’s important to the people they help every day,” the minister said. “Forming a mutual lets them focus on local needs with less bureaucratic interference. It’s no surprise that as more services mutualise we are seeing real benefits.”

Maude said that the government will now consider how to take the taskforce’s recommendations forward, and added that he was particularly aware of the problems with EU procurement regulations and would be pushing for reform.

Employee association praises report

Meanwhile, the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), whose chief executive was a member of the Mutuals Taskforce welcomed today’s report. EOA chief executive Iain Hasdell said:  “This is not only a rigorously well researched report but also a very timely one and I am pleased to have been a member of the taskforce.
 
“Mutuals are a fantastic vehicle to unleash the power of employee ownership. Whilst diversity of models is to be celebrated, we welcome the report’s conclusion that there is ‘incontestable evidence’ that employee ownership improves services as well as the well-being and fulfilment of employees.

“We also welcome the clarity the valuable definition included in the report of a mutual as being a spin out with significant employee ownership/control.”
 
Hasdell added that the challenge lying ahead is in the implementation of the recommendations contained within the report, and he expressed his hope that ministers would recognise this and dedicate sufficient resource to the mutual programme "to allow it to be both visionary and ambitious, but also realistic”.
 
The EOA speaks for co-owned business in the UK, and is a network of over a hundred companies – including John Lewis, Waitrose and Unipart – with significant employee ownership. The sector is worth a reported £30bn annually.

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

DFID announces UK's first development impact bond

17 Apr 2014

The UK is to launch the first development impact bond - an international version of the social impact...

Sector 'extraordinarily disconnected' from public, CFG chair says

15 Apr 2014

Charities are becoming “extraordinarily disconnected” from donors and supporters who do not understand...

Stephen Frost announced as Charity Awards host

15 Apr 2014

Civil Society Media is delighted to announce that this year's Charity Awards will be presented by actor...

2014 London Marathon on track to beat the £53m raised last year

18 Apr 2014

The 2014 London Marathon is on track to raise more than £53m for good causes and break the Guinness World...

No evidence of criminality at Tower Hamlets, say police

17 Apr 2014

The Metropolitan Police has said that there is “no credible evidence of criminality” following an...

Donations double in one day following Marathon runner’s death

16 Apr 2014

The amount donated to the National Osteoporosis Society, the charity 42-year-old Robert Berry was running...

'Technology can offer charities more than just online donations'

10 Apr 2014

Charities are focusing too much on using digital tools for fundraising instead of how technology can be...

Amnesty calls for 'full and frank disclosure' on alleged US surveillance

9 Apr 2014

Amnesty International has warned that alleged mass surveillance by the American intelligence agency NSA...

Virgin Money Giving launches app following year of growth

1 Apr 2014

Virgin Money Giving has launched an app for users after reporting that 30 per cent of traffic to its platform...

Join the discussion

Twitter
 
Training

Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<