Do councils have the management capacity to adopt a mutuals approach?

By David Bicknell

There is more evidence of interest in mutuals in this article from Personnel Today.

It makes some good points, notably that cash-strapped councils may lack the management resource to nurture mutuals.

Peter Reilly, the Institute of Employment Studies’ director of HR research and consultancy, who is quoted in the article, detects a division in local government between those willing to experiment with the mutuals option and those who still need convincing. “I think you have got a much bigger number of councils watching and waiting to see what comes of it,” he says. He questions whether or not councils have the management capacity to undertake such a change “if you are also trying to take out 25% of your costs at the same time”.

It is a view backed by Councillor Steve Reed, leader of Labour-controlled Lambeth Council in London, who told Personnel Today, “It’s a huge ask of the organisation, if I am honest,” he says. “We’re dealing with cuts bigger than managers have ever dealt with in their lives and then you ask them to manage in a completely different way.”

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