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Start a Public Service Mutual

Start a public service mutual

Start a Public Service Mutual 

What is it? 

There are lots of very successful well known mutual organisations, notably John Lewis on the high street and building societies like Nationwide. 

As a public servant you can get together with colleagues and set up a business which you ‘the employees’ own to run your service under contract. This means you won’t be in the public sector anymore and will have new freedom to run the service in the way that you know is best.

 There are lots of different types of mutual models to choose from, it could be entirely owned by employees or shared ownership with a private sector partner that can bring in business expertise and capital.

Many new mutuals have already spun out from across the public sector, or are in the process of doing so, covering a range of services from health care to youth services. Already, around 45,000 people deliver public services through mutual organisations.

The Cabinet Office announced 21 Pathfinder projects to act as trailblazers for others in the public sector. These include Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE), which provides over 40 community health services in Essex, SEQOL, a provider of integrated health and social care in Swindon, and Evolve YP, which delivers services for children and young people who are in care, or are leaving the care system.


How can I get involved?

There’s lots of support to help you decide if a mutual is right for you. Get your plans started by visiting the Mutuals Information Service online or call the hotline on 0845 5390543

Each Government department is putting in place a Right to Provide, giving public sector workers the right to establish employee-led organisations. Different types of mutual will be appropriate for different policy areas, so the process may vary by department. Some Government departments have published specific guidance on forming a mutual.

The Government wants to give as many public sector workers as possible the right to mutualise. However, there will be some areas of the public sector that are exempt– for example because of operational or security concerns.

Will I lose out by leaving the public sector?

There are regulations in place that mean services moving to the private sector offer equivalent staff employment packages. In community health services it has been agreed that staff moving across into ‘spin out’ social enterprises can have access to the NHS pension scheme. However, as partners in the new mutual business, employees will have a real say in overall employment package.

Where can I find out more?

For health professionals: If you work in health and social care, the Right to Provide gives you the right to present a proposal for a staff-led enterprise to your board. See this guide produced by Department of Health for further information: Making Quality Your Business: a guide to the right to provide.

For local authority workers: The Community Right to Challenge will enable local authority and parish council employees, as well as voluntary and community bodies, to challenge local authorities where they believe they could provide local services differently or better. This right is part of the Localism Bill and we expect it to come into force during 2012.

General information and advice