Category Archives: mutuals

Part equity models for mutuals could revive outsourcing sector

By Robert Morgan

Few can be in any doubt of the coalition government commitment to worker inclusive mutuals and the potential for not only smaller government as a result but a revival of the outsourcing services industry.  This model acts as a template to appease European workers councils who have long held back the greater use of outsourcing in country like France and Germany.

Headline grabbers like ““Ministers are poised to launch one of the biggest experiments in public sector reform … a John Lewis-style mutual – the first to be created in central government”, and “… three or four more Mutuals THIS year …” and “…1,000,000 public sector workers in Mutuals by 2015” in the Financial Times this week has not been picked by the bulk of the popular press. But they and the continental press soon will.

Francis Maude, Mutualisation’s marketing guru has said of the MyCSP mutual ““I don’t … view this as the ultimate model … we have learnt … The next one should be easier to do”. The award of the MyCSP contract, rumoured to be ten years with a break clause at year seven, will administer 1.5m government pensions, transfer 500 DWP staff into the SPV, see CEO compensation capped at 8% above average employee salary, net profits shared with the supplier but only after 1% going to charity and 1% going to apprenticeships, and employees interests will be represented by an externally advertised director. So part of the model are clear – a new form of privatisation with Jon Lewis style employee participation and share ownership and a “caring” social charter.

But has government learnt from Labour’s disasters in PFI / PPP – you know the £120 to change a light bulb stories. Key questions need answers:

  • To what extent will the mutual be given freedom to operate?
  • At least in the short-term, a mutual remains tied to its public sector background and delivery and is therefore subject to the rigours and constraints of regulation, OJEU and accountability to the Auditor General. Will these restrictions be “officially loosened” any time soon?
  • Everyone agrees that the public sector will continue to shrink and by definition therefore, so will a dependent mutual’s service revenues, this throws up questions on it’s ability to survive – and to attract external revenues, and so …
  • … will the choice of partner be heavily dependent on their demonstrated ability or commitment to develop such services?
  • What penalties are there for NOT securing external business?
  • How might the Mutual formula vary and evolve between different circumstances?

More importantly for the outsourcing industry is, are more commercial models going to spring up and be accepted. The consensus of clients I have spoken to is “yes”, but this needs to be balanced with the fact that there was not a single tier one outsourcer (IBM, CSC, HP) in the short-list for MyCSP.  Demand says “yes” and Supply says “yawn”. 

Robert Morgan, formerly the founder of Morgan Chambers and now director of outsourcing advisory Burnt Oak Partners, is delivering a speech on Part Equity models for commerce on Wednesday 8th February 2012 at Berwin Leighton Paisner – the event is free and tickets can be coordinated via  shan,murad@blplaw.com  – yes it is a comma!

Robert also writes the influential Outsourcing Lex column at

http://www.burntoak-partners.com/viewpoint/outsourcings-lex-column/

Transition Institute launches mutuals ‘spin-out’ camps

By David Bicknell

The Transition Institute has come up with a good idea: spin out camps. It plans to hold three over the coming months which will feature networking sessions and practical workshops discussing business design, implementing the business plan and service innovation, all delivered by experts in the field.

The scheduled months for the camps are:

  • North West – March 2012
  • North East – May 2012
  • Midlands – July 2012

Visit the Transition Institute website for more details

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

DWP civil servants get ready for MyCSP mutual leap

By David Bicknell

An article  published yesterday in the Financial Times has focused on the move of 500 civil servants to form a mutual.

The 500 staff, currently in the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), will leave the public sector in March and become stakeholders in MyCSP, a privately held company that will handle the retirement funds of 1.5m civil servants.

The FT calls the move to create a so-called John Lewis-style mutual, “one of the biggest experiments in public sector reform.”

It writes that under the MyCSP model, profits will be shared between a private sector provider, which will hold a 42 per cent stake; the government, with 33 per cent; and employees, who will own 25 per cent of the shares. 

A shortlist of 16 private sector providers has been whittled down to four – Xafinity, Capita, JLT and Wipro – with the winner due to be announced next month.

In light of the ongoing row over executive pay, the FT points out that the chief executive’s compensation will be capped at 8 per cent above the average employee’s salary while 1 per cent of net profits will be paid to charities and a further 1 per cent used to create apprenticeships.

You can read the full FT article here (subscription required)

Stephen Kelly – the man at the coalface of the Big Society

Hammersmith & Fulham Pathfinder tender hints at September start for schools mutual

By David Bicknell

 Campaign4Change has kept a watch on the progress of the Pathfinder Mutual at the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, which is looking to create a mutual for school support services.

The mutual will actually cover services to schools across three London boroughs working together: Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster City  Council.   

Now a tender opportunity for the project has been  listed on the Londontenders.org website. The anticipated start date for the contract is 1st September 2012, running to 1st September 2016.

It appears from the tender that the three boroughs are looking for “an innovative independent sector partner (ISP) to participate and invest in the creation of a Mutual Joint Venture Company.”

The tender says that “the ISP will take responsibility for the creation of the joint venture company, whose shareholding will be shared between the ISP and the employees (held on the employees’ behalf in a trust). The Contracting Authority will have a contractual arrangement with the Mutual Joint Venture company to provide some of the services, supplies and works listed….. for a period of not less than 4 years.”

The tender goes on: “The Contracting Authority is working closely with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster City Council, and it is intended that staff from all three boroughs will be transferred into the Mutual Joint Venture company under the Acquired Rights Directive (the UK’s Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006). The Contracting Authority is procuring on behalf of education bodies within the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster City Council for an independent partner to set up the Mutual Joint Venture Company.”

Interestingly , the scale of services to be offered by the Mutual Joint Venture Company is extensive, everything from ICT services and ICT supplies to architectural, building and security services.

The closing date for expressions of interest in the tender is 31st January.

Hammersmith & Fulham mutual Pathfinder expected to launch in 2012

Unison ready to fight against mutuals and rails against ‘self-interested’ third sector

By David Bicknell

It would be nice to think that the unions might see something positive in mutuals, a new (old) way of doing business, perhaps. Maybe an open mind?

But no. The latest communication from Unison – call to arms might be a better description – is profoundly depressing for anyone who sees the possibilities offered by mutuals and co-operatives. It is dismissively critical of what it calls the ‘self interested’ third sector. I suppose I shouldn’t have been that surprised by the tone.

Here’s a taste of its invective:

“Whilst the Cabinet Office desperately struggles to reinvent the failing ‘big society’ policy the LGA recently reported that less than 3% of councils responding to a survey have had any interest from staff in setting up employee led mutual arrangements and very few intend to encourage or push this route.
 
“Despite these figures which would depress the most committed ‘big society’ proponent The Cabinet Office are intent on flogging a dead horse are now issuing guidance and changes to legislation to take forward coops and mutuals to make it easier to set them up to run public services:
http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/news/mutuals-get-go-ahead
 
“This is now for the unions a ‘back to CCT’ moment. In the late 80’s and early 90s we made sure anyone who wanted to pick over the bones of public services were able to support the continuance of staff terms and conditions and we fought hard to enforce TUPE.
 

“We fought for continuation of staff pensions and made pensions a key negotiating point. We fought against the cowboy contractors by insisting that they had proper health and safety assessments, method statements, competency to do the work and financial security to run public services without going into bankruptcy.

“This latest missive from the Cabinet Office should remind us as a union to dust down the old CCT advice. It is no different now to then in many ways – if enthusiastic amateurs attempt to run local public services they should be held to account in the same way that we held private companies to account under CCT.

“Public services shouldn’t be put at risk nor public sector workers thrown onto the scrap heap because councils or other employers are seduced by the language of good intent spun by the self-interested third sector intent on privatising public services.”

So, I guess we should probably take that as a ‘No to mutuals’ then.

Rounding-up coverage of David Cameron’s planned Co-operatives Bill

By David Bicknell

Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of  a forthcoming ‘Co-operatives Bill’ to consolidate outdated pieces of legislation governing co-operatives and mutuals into a single statute has been heavily commented on in recent days.

Cameron said the Co-operatives Bill would cut red tape and help to build a fairer economy, ensuring that co-operative members can share in the benefits of enterprise. 

Here is a round-up of coverage in the last few days about the planned bill and about co-operatives and mutuals.

Co-operatives UK

The Daily Telegraph

The Guardian

The Economist

Transition Institute

Clegg speech renews Coalition mutuals and employee-ownership focus

By David Bicknell

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has advocated greater employee-ownership.

In a speech yesterday to the Corporation of London, he described employee share ownership as “a touchstone of liberal economic thought for a century and a half and a hugely under-used tool in unlocking growth.”

As this report explains,  he suggested that employee-owned firms could end the ‘standing feud between capital and labour’.

“We don’t believe our problem is too much capitalism: we think it’s that too few people have capital. We need more individuals to have a real stake in their firms.”

It could be the latest kick-start the mutuals and employee-ownership initiative needs. (And John Lewis’s marketing department must be wallowing again in the free publicity)

Not all coverage of Clegg’s speech has been positive, however, with Nils Pratley in the Guardian calling the employee share-ownership  ideas ‘half-baked’.  Pratley says the speech raised more questions than answers.  But in fairness, I don’t think Clegg’s intention was to lay out a complete White Paper for action. It was merely to continue to put employee ownership on the agenda for discussion.

Text of Nick Clegg’s speech

Transition Institute’s weekly round-up of mutuals and spin-out stories

By David Bicknell

Here is a link to the Transition Institute’s weekly round-up of mutuals and public sector spin-out stories.

NB The link  on the Transition Institute site to the Public Service article on procurement change and SMEs on 13th January doesn’t work. The link below does, however.

Pace of procurement change frustrates innovative SMEs

A swift round-up of 2012 previews, mutuals and social enterprise stories

By David Bicknell

The Transition Institute has done a good job of rounding up some of the New Year look-ahead pieces around social enterprise, mutuals and what 2012 has in store for local government, health and social care.

You can see the round up here