Gareth Thomas says government's employee-led mutuals project is failing

Shadow civil society minister's parliamentary questions reveal little interest in the scheme

Gareth Thomas
Gareth Thomas

Gareth Thomas, the shadow civil society minister, has claimed the government’s ambition of getting a million public sector workers to form mutuals by 2015 is "going nowhere fast".

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said in February that he hoped one million public sector staff would transfer to the third sector within four years.

Earlier this month, Maude announced details of a £10m programme to support this process.

Thomas has submitted parliamentary questions to all government departments asking how many employees had applied to run services for which their departments were responsible.

The answers revealed that only 25,000 staff, almost all from the Department of Health, had opted to do so.

The Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence were the only other departments where staff had shown any interest in going down this route.

Thomas, who is chair of the Co-operative Party, which promotes mutuals, said the answers showed that Maude’s ambitions for employee-led ventures were "going nowhere fast".

He added: "The government is out of touch with the realities faced by employees who want to form their own businesses.

"If major charities aren’t getting the government contracts ministers claimed they would, it’s hardly surprising that civil servants are wary of believing ministerial promises."

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