Third Sector: “Pathfinder mutuals suffering mixed fortunes and need more support mechanisms”

Third Sector has taken a look at the fortunes of the current mutual Pathfinders and concludes that they have been suffering mixed fortunes.

Plans for lecturers to take over Newton Rigg College in Cumbria were hit when the college was taken over by another institution.  And a project to spin out youth services in three London councils has been held up because the councils – Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea – are currently negotiating to merge many of their services as a result of the financial squeeze on local authorities.

Many mutuals, though, are making good progress, and some have already been launched successfully, Third Sector says. However, although the government has created a lot of buzz around mutuals, the piece argues that mutuals need more frameworks and support mechanisms in place.

That particularly includes a framework for council workers to take over services, which will be partly solved when a ‘right to challenge’ is enshrined in the Localism Bill towards the end of this year. However, many observers feel the right as it currently stands is not strong enough.

Third sector has also interviewed Julian Le Grand, who is leading the government’s Mutuals Taskforce. He suggests there are five key issues that the taskforce must help mutuals tackle:

  • Business Planning
  • External opposition, notably from unions
  • Procurement
  • Money issues
  • Getting start-up funding

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