Mutuo Chief Executive Peter Hunt has challenged the UK Government to do more to promote mutual businesses and says the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition partners have missed several opportunities to boost the sector.
Speaking at last week’s 2011 Mutuals Forum conference in London, Mr Hunt said that, so far, there had been little evidence of a coherent plan Government to fulfill its Coalition Agreement pledge to “foster diversity and promote mutuals.”
Said Mr Hunt: “At the same time, the mutual sector is the strongest it has been in many years. It employs over a million people and turns over more than £110 billion annually.
“It’s clear to us that the Government needs to work much harder in this area if it is to honour its commitment.”
Mutuo said that in the financial services sector, the Government has already missed opportunities to promote mutuality by:
• Ending Child Trust Funds, more than 60 per cent of which were successfully provided by mutuals
• Rejecting plans to re-mutualise Northern Rock, even before the Treasury received a report on the feasibility of this
• The Treasury’s failure to support mutual insurers as they argue that their capital structures should be treated differently from plcs by regulators.
Added Mr Hunt: “In the public services, the Cabinet Office has stated an ambition of one million public sector workers owning their own firms by 2015. So far, it has achieved less than five per cent of this number. Unless it immediately makes plans to provide comprehensive support to public sector managers, it is clear this target will not be met.
“When confidence in other types of institutions has collapsed, mutuals have grown, strengthened and showed the way for responsible business in our country. Were the Government to seize the opportunity to engage more fully with the sector, we would be in a position to genuinely secure and grow more customer focused businesses and radically transform methods of public service delivery.”
The 2011 Mutuals Yearbook launched at the conference reveals the scale of the UK sector with over 18,000 organisations including co-ops, building societies, housing associations, credit unions, mutual insurers, clubs, societies, NHS trusts, employee owned businesses and other bodies providing a combined mutual membership of over 60 million.
• The sector sustains over a million jobs and has an annual turnover of over £111 billion. The yearbook has been sponsored by the Co-operative Group and is available online at s.coop/7e0x. To request a printed copy, contact Mutuo on 0208 387 1256.