Tag Archives: Julian Le Grand

Le Grand: ‘Public services can be delivered by knights and knaves mutually’

By David Bicknell

Mutuals taskforce chairman Julian Le Grand has written this piece in the Guardian, which argues that when it comes to the delivery of public services, no one type of provider  i.e. the public monopoly, is suitable for all services.

Neither is a private firm nor a social enterprise automatically the best alternative. Even employee-led mutuals, he argues, are not appropriate in all circumstances: they may not be suitable for services that are natural monopolies, for instance.

He adds that it is of fundamental importance to consider what motivates those who work in the service. Only if they are appropriately motivated, he suggests, will those working in the public services deliver the quality of service that governments hope for and that users expect.

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Maude unveils Mutual Pathfinder progress report and launch of mutuals information service

By David Bicknell

The government has announced that it will provide new support to help staff-led mutual organisations set up and spin out from the public sector.

The government wants public sector staff, tax payers and service users to benefit from the increased innovation, higher productivity and better customer satisfaction mutuals often create.

To help encourage and foster the development of mutuals, the government has launched  a new £10million programme Mutual Support Programme (MSP) to provide business and professional services to groups of staff or existing mutual organisations. 

A consortium of experts in employee ownership will manage the programme to purchase HR, legal, financial, tax and business planning services to develop the most promising new mutuals.

Public sector staff who want to take control of the services they run can access a new Mutuals Information Service.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said, “The Government is getting support in place, developing a pipeline of innovative new mutual ‘spin outs’ where employees have real power. The evidence is clear – mutuals can provide better, more efficient public services.

“It’s time for politicians and public sector bosses to cut the apron strings and trust frontline staff to make decisions. They are the real experts, they know what’s important to the people who use the service and they know how things can be done better.”

The Mutuals Support Programme will also fund support to help organisations tackle common barriers and share information so that many others benefit from the work.

The Government has also published the first progress report from the Government’s Mutual Pathfinder programme which highlights barriers that staff have faced, including a tendency for contract tenders to make requirements beyond what is legally necessary such as demanding an organisation has a multi-million pound bond before taking the contract.

Maude was critical of such requirements, saying, “Too often tender processes go way beyond what’s necessary, asking for massive bonds up front and insisting that the organisations have existed for years. Iron cladding contracts bars all but a few big companies from winning them. It is a fundamental barrier to creating the vibrant, innovative and competitive public services this country needs.

“Through our Mystery Shopper exercise mutuals and other small businesses can tell us about discriminatory practice. We will intervene when problems are exposed. I do understand that Commissioners may feel stuck in the middle. Where they feel they are forced to over complicate things they can let us know through the Tell us How website and we will address the problem.”

Professor Julian Le Grand, Chair of the Mutuals Taskforce, said: “The Mutuals Taskforce has gathered evidence for why employee-led mutuals make sense in public services. The next phase of our work will be focused on making the case across the public sector and stimulating demand.”

Maude and Le Grand made the announcements while visiting the largest Pathfinder mutual, Anglian Community Enterprise, which provides over 40 community health services and a range of learning disability, GP and dental services for the population of North and North-East Essex.

MoD rules out mutual option

Capita event added to the public service mutuals ‘conference season’

By David Bicknell

The autumn conference schedule is already starting to fill up, with an update of the current landscape for public service mutuals high on organisers’ subject agenda.

The widespread interest in the mutuals concept means a busy diary for Mutuals Taskforce Chair Julian Le Grand, who indeed will be on hand for the latest, from Capita: Public Service Mutuals is the title of the event to be held in Central London on 7th December.

Other speakers include Heather Mitchell, Acting Chief Executive, NHS Swindon;  Margaret Elliott OBE, Director, Sunderland Home CareAssociates; Ben Jupp. Director Social Finance; Carole Leslie, Director of Policy, Employee Ownership Association;  Councillor Steve Reed, Leader, Lambeth Council; John Telling, Group Corporate Affairs Director at the Mitie Group; and Patrick Lewis, Partners’ Counsellor at John Lewis.

Mutuals: ‘Managers are the biggest barrier to employee ownership’

By David Bicknell

In the aftermath of the Open Public Services White Paper, Stephen Kelly, who is in charge of the Coalition’s plan to mutualise the public sector, has been interviewed in the Daily Telegraph here.

Meanwhile, in this clip from a Policy Exchange debate on mutuals, Julian Legrand has been quoted as saying managers are the biggest barrier to employee ownership

Parliamentary Committee to discuss the role of mutuals this week

By David Bicknell

Parliament will discuss the prospects for mutuals at a meeting of the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee tomorrow morning.

The session, the Committee’s fifth instalment of its Big Society Inquiry, will focus on the Government’s intention to diversify the provision of public services by opening them up to charities, social enterprises, mutuals and the private sector. The Committee will hear from representatives of the voluntary sector and the TUC, Professor Julian Le Grand and Ed Mayo from the Cabinet Office Mutuals Taskforce, and Shona Nichols from business process outsourcing company Capita.

The Committee’s questioning is likely to cover

  • obstacles to voluntary sector organisations delivering public services;
  • the work of the Government’s Mutuals Taskforce in driving forward employee ownership of public services; and
  • the role of the private sector in the Big Society.

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

Mutuals: After the Big Society, the Good Society…

By David Bicknell

I came across a piece from Public Finance written by Maurice Glasman discussing what Labour’s answer to the Big Society might mean in practice.

There are some interesting thoughts on mutuals here. Glasman writes:

“There is far more to meaningful work than money and self-interest; it is the way we serve and change the world. The workforce is at the heart of this. The Good Society stresses its importance in the private as well as the public sector. This is very different to the Big Society agenda, which does not recognise that capital seeks the highest rate of return and thus creates great pressure to turn both humans and nature into commodities.

“To understand what is at stake here, look at the idea of corporate governance. The Big Society offers two ideas of corporate governance for the public and private sectors. In terms of the state, it prefers a form of mutualisation, developed by Julian Le Grand, in which public services are provided by worker-owned enterprises. There is no balance of interest in the governance of the service provider, and users and funders are excluded. State-funded services have no representation on the board. This is in contrast to the Big Society view of private sector corporate governance, in which the worker has no status at all and managerial sovereignty prevails.

“Our ‘Blue Labour’ approach brings the two together. Reliance on managerial sovereignty is both wasteful and ineffective and does not engage fully the innovation, creativity and vocational energy of the workforce. It is a contractual and assessment-based model that focuses too much on procedure and not enough on developing relationships.

“Instead, a third of the mutual boards should be elected by the workforce. Another third should be represented by users (the involvement of users is an important part of community organising that needs to be undertaken to strengthen society and give voice to disorganised people). The final third of the board should be the local authority or the state, which has a legitimate interest in procedure, wider social goals and its integration into government policy.”

Two events in May: Mutualisation Briefing and the Trustmarque TE2011 Customer Conference

By David Bicknell

There are a number of public sector events coming up in May. Here is advance warning of a couple that the Campaign4Change has come across.

This one, by Westminster Briefing on 12th May, in Westminster, the latest in a series of briefings  all about mutual ownership models in public services,  discusses the issues for local authorities, employees and communities and has invited the head of the government’s mutuals taskforce, Julian Le Grand, to take part.

The Trustmarque TE2011 Customer Event, ‘Efficiency Through Technology’, on Friday 20th May at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London, features two keynote speakers, championer for British Business and former CBI Director-General Lord Digby Jones and author and futurologist Richard Watson.

The event will provide the first opportunity to discuss with Trustmarque and see demonstrations of some new Cloud based services it is offering, and will also feature  informative seminars,  and provide practical advice for customers. One of the highlights will be a Q&A session with Lord  Jones and a selection of Trustmarque customers, setting the scene for a discussion around some of the key issues arising from the IT industry at present.

New Local Government Network to hold mutuals conference

By David Bicknell

With the appointment of Stephen Kelly, the former head of Micro Focus, to be the Crown Commercial Representative to head up the creation of the mutuals from existing teams within central government departments, it seems mutualisation momentum is growing.

The latest event to be organised is one by the New Local Government Network, which plans to hold a conference on 14th June in London, where one of the speakers will be Professor Julian Le Grand, leader of the Mutuals Taskforce.

You can find details of the conference here