In the run-up to the general election, the Mutual Manifesto, published by think-tank Mutuo, has challenged political parties to make commitments to the movement. Described as the first of its kind, the document appeals to political leaders to support and nurture mutuals. The main message being that “mutuals do not need favours, but a level playing field”.
Following on from the effect the financial world has had on the recession, the manifesto says government must not let banks go back to ‘business as usual’ and asks for Northern Rock to be given a chance.
It says: “Keeping a reformed Northern Rock independent of the big banks will be good for competition. Northern Rock could be converted to an asset locked public interest mutual.
“As a mutual committed to its core business, a remutualised Northern Rock would help the Government by supporting competition and diversity through the maintenance of a strong mutually-owned financial sector. In any exit process the Government needs to realise the optimum value for the taxpayer.”
The manifesto — also supported by Co-operatives UK, the Building Societies Association, the Employee Ownership Association, and the Association of Financial Mutuals — also called on government to set up an Office for Mutuals with a Minister for Mutuals.
Similar to the support given to the Third Sector by the Cabinet Office, the manifesto says the initiative would ensure there is a focus for working with mutuals in government, and that all departments would see a new co-ordination to working with mutuals. Government could also, at no cost, appoint a Treasury/Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) joint Minister to be specified as Minister for Mutuals, according to the manifesto. A Minister would be supported by a team of officials who would work together as the ‘Government Office for Mutuals’.
Mutuo also wants the main parties to show it understands the mutual movement. Among the list of other commitments wanted are for government to:
• Ensure mutual sector legislation keeps pace with company law reform
• Commit to alter the terms and approach of regulatory authorities to match government policy
• Support public services to convert to mutuals by a business conversion unit
• Establish a public services regulator to drive quality corporate competence.
Mutuo Chief Executive Peter Hunt (pictured) said:“The nature of the recession has meant that fundamental questions are being asked about the way businesses are owned and our economy is structured.Mutuals exist to share the rewards of business with those that earn them, there are lessons in this for how we structure business and our community more widely.It has been good to see mutuals in the news recently, but we now need to see politicians delivering on their promises.”
• To view the full manifesto visit: www.mutuo.co.uk.