By David Bicknell
A BBC website article has set a scenario where mutuals and co-operatives could be more widely used in the NHS.
The piece quotes the example of Sandwell Community Caring Trust, and contrasts the spread of social co-operatives in Italy, where there are more than 7,000, covering care for the elderly and disabled, to jobs for ex-offenders.
“Each co-operative is made up of paid staff, users and their families, volunteers and investors. Some or all of those put in their own capital to get it off the ground, but what’s absolutely crucial, is the big leg-up that Italian co-operatives get from the system,” the piece says.
“They pay reduced corporation taxes, have access to specialist banks and are linked together in consortia so they can wield more clout when tendering for public contracts.”
The article suggests that one of the biggest challenges faced by co-operatives is recruiting senior managers with good business acumen and a social conscience – not least because co-operatives are often seen as offering insufficient status and salaries.
If there is one thing that the discussion about the Big Society and the Government’s Open Public Services White Paper has done, it is to open up the ground for debate on a range of issues around public services and how they should be delivered. The words ‘mutuals’, ‘co-operatives’ and the ‘John Lewis model’ are now never too far away from the discussion, as this housing network blog about mutual housing demonstrates.
By David Bicknell
There was a useful piece in the Guardian on Saturday about how to set up a mutual.
The article, ‘From councils to co-ops: how public workers can form a mutual’, suggests “employee-owned mutuals offer an attractive third way to the cuts programme”, and offers an eight-point plan on how to set one up.