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Francis Maude unveils details of £10m mutuals programme

Government wants to see a million public sector employees take over the running of their services

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office

Francis Maude, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, has revealed details of a £10m programme designed to help public sector staff join the voluntary sector by setting up mutual organisations.

The government wants to see a million public sector staff in organisations such as hospitals and children’s centres take over the running of their services by 2015.

Maude announced that a consortium led by PA Consulting Group, an employee-owned firm of consultants, would provide specialist support to staff interested in pursuing this route.

Public sector employees can apply to the consortium for help in areas such as business planning, HR and the law.

They can also access a new Mutuals Information Service website and hotline on 0845 5390543.

Maude, who first announced £10m would be made available to support the creation of mutuals 13 months ago, said: "It’s time for politicians and public sector bosses to cut the apron strings and trust front-line staff to make decisions."

Maude’s announcement coincided with the publication of the report Our Mutual Friends by the Mutuals Taskforce, which was set up by the government in February to support the creation of mutuals.

The report says mutuals have lower absenteeism and staff turnover rates than non-employee-owned organisations, pay higher wages, have better productivity and provide greater customer satisfaction.

"The potential for a transformation of public services through the development of public service mutuals is considerable," the report says.

Professor Julian Le Grand, chair of the taskforce, said: "The taskforce has gathered evidence for why employee-led mutuals make sense in public services. The next phase of our work will be focused on making the case across the public sector and stimulating demand."

Yesterday also saw the publication of the first progress report from the Mutual Pathfinder Programme, which the Cabinet Office began in August last year to help the government understand how services can spin out from the public sector.

The report revealed that of the 21 mutual projects that have received mentoring and advice from the programme, seven had launched as mutuals and another seven were close to doing so.

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