Tag Archives: Mutual Pathfinders

Tri-borough mutual plans to save £1m in costs for London councils

By David Bicknell

Council staff across three London boroughs who are setting up their own employee-led mutual to take over school support services expect to save a million pounds over four years.

The three councils – Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea – already share several services, which they say is enabling them to reduce back office costs to help protect frontline services from the public spending squeeze.

Now, a statement issued by Hammersmith & Fulham for the three councils says the staff involved in supplying support services for schools across the boroughs are “putting the finishing touches to plans to set themselves up as an employee-led mutual.”

Andy Rennison, assistant director in Hammersmith & Fulham children’s services, who has been leading the mutual project, said, “Staff in these areas have experience of trading with schools and are excited about the new challenge. We feel that having more control, flexibility and being able to develop a more commercial approach will benefit schools, the mutual staff and the three councils.

“If the venture is successful, and we have every reason to think so, the councils will receive 50% of the mutual’s net profit to reuse in providing educational opportunities.”

The mutual will pilot the new arrangements for four years, with support from a joint venture independent sector partner, currently being selected through European procurement processes.

Hammersmith & Fulham says an open day for potential bidders held on January 24 attracted around 60 delegates.

The project is being supported by the Cabinet Office which picked Hammersmith & Fulham to be a Pathfinder  to explore new ways of delivering public services more efficiently. The services include financial management support and budget planning, IT and building development projects, as well as strategic advice to councils.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Front line staff know what local people want from public services. The mutual model being pioneered in Hammersmith & Fulham will give staff the power to do things the way they know works best. The evidence is clear, when staff have a real stake in their business productivity rises and customer satisfaction grows.

“This Pathfinder mutual is particularly groundbreaking as staff are forming a ‘joint venture’ with a partner organisation that will help to develop the business further. I commend the staff leading this exciting project for their achievements and hope many more will follow their lead.”

“We are very pleased that staff across the Tri-borough area are excited about this opportunity and taking the lead in this Pathfinder. After the initial four years, the service will be retendered on the open market to ensure that taxpayers continue to get the best possible value for money in the longer term,” said Hammersmith & Fulham cabinet member, Cllr Helen Binmore.

Independent adviser OPM was asked by the Cabinet Office to provide expert support to Rennison and his team as part of the Pathfinder programme.

OPM chief Executive Hilary Thompson said; “Elected members, managers and staff at Hammersmith and Fulham have shown real commitment and energy throughout the process of developing the staff mutual. This is an innovative example of a council recognising and seeking to realise the potential of employee ownership and new ways of working.”

It has emerged that academies and free schools will provide a future opportunity for the mutual to extend its services. There are currently two free schools and two academies in Hammersmith, with more in the pipeline.

Further background information on the mutual is being made available in a Hammersmith & Fulham Cabinet report.

(Thanks to Ian Makgill of government contracting specialist Govmark for his help with this story)

Related Links

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

SMEs – when to choose them and when not

Public services can be delivered by knights and knaves mutually

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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

Happy New Year from Campaign4Change

By David Bicknell

A Happy New Year to all our readers from both Tony Collins and me. Let’s hope that 2012 brings success in the development of IT projects – and satisfactory resolution for those that weren’t quite so successful – as well as continued progress for Pathfinder mutuals.

I’d like to see the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham’s Schools IT mutual successfully get off the ground early this year, and for another  mutual, Central Surrey Health that I spoke with in 2011 to make the continued business progress its efforts deserve. I hope that all growing, developing and prospective mutuals get all the political and economic support they need to thrive.

I came across a few stories at the end of 2011 from other blogs that made for interesting reading, plus a few Campaign4Change favourites. Here’s a selection:

Taking Stock

Lessons from the GoDaddy Customer Revolt

Top Harvard Business Review Blog posts of 2011

Top 10 Green Business stories

The unavoidable truths about GovIT

Government’s new ICT Plan – the good, the bad, and what’s needed

Agile can fix failed GovIT

Mutuals Briefing updated

By David Bicknell

One of the most popular areas of Campaign4Change is Mutuals Briefing, a digest of useful information and links around mutuals and mutualisation.

Mutuals Briefing has now been updated to reflect recent announcements by the Cabinet Office covering a report on Mutual Pathfinders, the Mutuals Taskforce Evidence Paper, and the launch of the Mutuals Information Service.  You can also find links to stories covering mutuals issues at the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, and at the Defence Equipment & Support ( DE&S) arm of the Ministry of Defence.

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