Understanding the politics of ‘stepping out’ to create a public sector mutual

By David Bicknell

I just read an excellent piece by Craig Dearden-Philips in the Guardian today about the politics involved in the spinning out of a public sector mutual.

He argues that if you, as a public manager, want to ‘step out’, you’ve not only got to do the numbers, you’ve also got to do the politics.

He suggests that politicians, or very senior executives, need three things. Firstly, they need to know if this fits in with the general tenor of where they see things going more widely in the organisation. Secondly, they want to know that the numbers add up.

And finally, and perhaps the most interesting, “politicians and senior managers need to know that they can influence the new body. For councillors and top executives, who are used to directly managing services, a spin-out can present a big operational and financial threat. They can no longer just recover a deficit elsewhere by plundering your budget. Nor, if they are no longer in charge, can they, in the event of a bad headline, tell voters they are putting a rocket under you! Again, the answer here lies in giving them a place at the table and moving the relationship from one governed by command and control to one where influence is exercised through a contract.”

Guardian Public Services Summit

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