Will George Osborne help mutuals in today’s Budget?

By David Bicknell

There’s an interesting piece on the ResPublica blog today, suggesting that today’s Budget will offer an opportunity to judge the Government’s understanding of, and appetite for, bridging the gap between ambition and action, rhetoric and reality, policy and practice when it comes to mutuals.

The piece, by Dan Gregory,  ‘Can the Budget help the public sector do mutuals?’ suggests we should look out for any promising words in George Osborne’s speech around the public stake in the banks, the future of the remaining arms-length bodies, the future of some of our valued national assets, and keep an eye on public service reforms.

Gregory suggests that “a handful of our local public servants and administrators are interested (in mutuals). So what does this mutual ambition mean in practice for these asset managers, budget-holders and HR managers? Which button do you press to get yourself a mutual? The unspoken truth here – which is beginning to crystallise as the test of this government’s ambitions for mutual solutions – is that the standard levers available to those responsible for delivery probably won’t lead to the creation of mutuals. Keeping services or assets in house certainly won’t and going out to the market, well, unsurprisingly, means the market will decide. So how do you ‘do’ the mutual option? Where’s the lever?”

Gregory says, “We should welcome any practical steps that will truly enable the HR professionals, asset managers and budget-holders to look beyond the options they currently have at their disposal and set the warm words alight.”

Let’s see what Osborne comes up with later today.

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