Britain’s leaders call for wider ownership through mutuals

Thought leaders from across Britain have called for the mutual model to be more widely adopted.

Thought leaders from across Britain have called for the mutual model to be more widely adopted.

In a collection of essays, 'Making it Mutual: The ownership revolution that Britain needs' published by ResPublica, politicians, advocates and business leaders agree that a radical shift is needed to extend ownership to all. In the wake of the long-term squeeze on wages and income, a mutual business model is needed that delivers growth that benefits everyone.

In Parliament today, Cabinet Minister Francis Maude MP will launch the publication, which warns that without proper recognition of new business and economic models, Britain will continue to suffer from what has become a rigged and anti-competitive market that penalises not just new entrants, but different models of how to do business.

Essays are written by a range of policy-makers and practitioners, including Dame Tessa Jowell; Graeme Nuttall, Government Advisor, HM Treasury Employee Ownership Advisory Group; and Professor Julian Le Grand, Chair, Mutuals Taskforce; Andrew Burnell, Chief Executive of City Health Care Partnership CIC; Kate Bull, co-founder of The People's Supermarket, many of whom argue that deregulation and tax cutting is simply not enough.

In the publication, and published by Co-operative News, Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, argues for the UK to adopt a national co-operation policy. He says that the UK lacks some of the essential ingredients to be competitive; and moots that an enterprise model that allows partners to co-operate in order to compete is needed. "My argument is that we have had a competition policy for some time. We now need a co-operation policy as a vital complement for economic renewal," says Mr Mayo.

Co-operative News has also published essays from the collection by Professor Julian Le Grand focusing on the mutual revolution; Kathryn McDowell who discusses the power given to orchestras; and Cllr  Barbara Brownridge looks at how residents are empowered through the Co-operative Council model.

Professor Le Grand, from the London School of Economics and Chair of the Mutuals Taskforce, looks at how mutuals could be a revolution in the making. He said: "Mutuals can be trusted to perform well in the delivery of public services, both because of their staff motivation, and because of the freedoms they give to staff to exercise that motivation. This case has not been fully accepted throughout the public sector, so a complete mutuals revolution is not yet upon us; but, as the virtues of public service mutualisation become increasingly apparent, it may not be far away."

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, which is Britain's first self-governing orchestra, looks at how the uncommon structure in the musical world has allowed members to benefit from the governance. 

While, Oldham Councillor Barbara Brownridge discusses how adopting the co-operative model has changed the council's focus and will help to empower residents.

Contributors also argue that ownership in the UK has become far too concentrated in the hands of just a few players, which has had a severe negative impact on innovation and economic growth. This is not just an issue for the private sector. Public institutions and services have also become disengaged from British people, separating communities from their own resources and their use as potential community assets.

The collection includes essays that cover all areas of policy – energy, financial services, education, infrastructure, welfare, public services, competition – and proposes entrepreneurial and innovative policy proposals for structural reform.

• Visit ResPublica to read the full collection of essays: respublica.org.uk/item/Making-it-Mutual

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