The Co-operative launches one stop shop to deliver mutual public services
A one stop shop offering expert advice and practical assistance to those looking to establish alternative ways of delivering public sector services was launched today (17 May) by The Co-operative Group, the UK’s biggest mutual organisation.
Public Service Mutuals, is a joint venture set up by the Group in conjunction with leading law firm Cobbetts that specialises in the mutual sector and Westminster Bridge, a consultancy working to promote a better understanding of co-operatives.
The joint venture will seek to endorse the co-operative approach as a viable model for those looking for a different way of providing services which until now have been delivered by the public sector. It will offer a full range of practical assistance and advice from the early stages of thinking through appraisal and implementation to the first full year of trading.
As part of its ethical plan launched earlier this year, The Co-operative is committed to support the growth and development of co-operatives.
Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive at The Co-operative Group said: “We have heard a great deal from all the mainstream political parties about the co-operative model delivering public sector services but up until now we’ve lacked a one-stop shop where people can get the advice and assistance necessary to turn great ideas into practical solutions. Public Service Mutuals fills that gap
“We know the co-operative model works. Indeed, we have been around since 1844 and in recent years we have enjoyed a renaissance which has seen us double sales, profits and membership. However, we have a purpose beyond profit, with a vision of creating a better society and we believe this new venture will enable us to help communities across the UK deliver important services in an alternative way.
“The three organisations involved fully understand how stakeholder ownership can drive success just as effectively as investor ownership and together we can offer hands on practical advice in one place.”
Kevin Jaquiss, partner responsible for Cobbetts' public services work, said: “We believe that in many cases co-operatives offer a viable alternative to conventional approaches by offering employees and local communities a stake in the delivery of key services. We have a wealth of experience and we understand what works and what doesn’t.”
Peter Hunt, Director, at Westminster Bridge said: “Co-operative ideals have a particular resonance in the public sector where there is an underlying sense of purpose in the delivery of services and recognition that values are important. Indeed, significant parts of the public sector are now in forms of co-operative ownership with the highest profile examples being NHS foundation trusts.”
Public Service Mutuals offers directors of services and public sector bodies a straightforward process with each stage clearly costed without commitment to going any further.
Public Service Mutuals offers a staged approach. It will initially help those looking to set up an enterprise to establish if the mutual approach is the correct one and, if it is, it will help with business plans, structure maps and organisational design.
It will then assist with the transfer of the public service to the mutual organisation, ensure all the legal, HR and other contractual requirements are met and will then continue to support the enterprise throughout the first year of trading.
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