By David Bicknell
A recent piece in the Guardian local government network has come up with the intriguing idea that mutuals can help drive down demand for public services.
The article, by Ross Griffiths, a partner at law firm Cobbetts, suggests that if as a service user, you are dealing with a provider that is your mutual, you are more likely to think twice about the demands you are making on it, and the effect that might have on the service and other users. It argues that this is the ‘Holy Grail’ of the mutual project – allowing providers to deliver services more cheaply not by making cuts, but by reducing demand.
The piece asks whether in today’s local government, where efficiency must be a big part of any changes to services, this is something that mutual structures can deliver. Or are they, as the article asks, ‘little more than a frivolity that should be saved for less straitened times?’