Tag Archives: Pathfinders

Why those driving the creation of public sector mutuals are Investors, not Conservers

By David Bicknell

All those considering setting up public sector mutuals like Hammersmith & Fulham  – and those in the middle of running successful mutual pathfinders such as Central Surrey Health – know the importance of investing in their vision and backing it.

That’s why I liked this piece by Craig Dearden-Philips, who while discussing third sector organisations, makes a distinction between Investors and Conservers.

“My guess though is that the people who make the biggest difference in the world , certainly socially, are almost all on Investors. These people are not ‘born’. They make a choice about how to live. They know that the Investment Principle works – and they live by it.

“Of course, Investment isn’t just a one way street. Investments frequently don’t pay off. In people, in relationships, in business. You get burned as much as you get it right. And investments that are not made judiciously, in people or ventures that are wrong to begin with, are not defensible either. Being investment-minded isn’t about being a soft-heart. But it is about understanding the powerful link between investment and reward and making this, somehow, a feature in the way you operate.”

Wise words.

A few words from Francis Maude on mutuals’ pathfinders, skills and leadership

Some key points appear to emerge from this Civil Service Live interview with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, who continues to be a chearleader for mutuals.

* Don’t bank on another wave of mutual pathfinders. It seems as if there is an internal debate going on which is erring towards wider encouragement for mutualisation.

* Leadership in setting up mutuals is required – and it may come from outside in stimulating workforce interest.

* Maude is more interested in developing skills in-house rather than hiring external consultants

* Staff shouldn’t be excluded from the opportunity to benefit from the sale of any entity.

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