Press release

Cabinet Office launches Ambassadors programme to support fledgling mutuals

Fledgling and existing mutuals will be given a vital helping hand from leaders in their fields as part of the Mutuals Ambassadors Programme.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

18 October 2012
CAB 112-12

Fledgling and existing mutuals will be given a vital helping hand from 15 inspiring individuals, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude announced today at the SOLACE Summit 2012. These leaders in their fields, part of the Mutuals Ambassadors Programme, will work free of charge to drive forward the public service mutuals movement.

Each ambassador will work closely on the ground to deliver specific advice and support to emerging and existing mutuals. This will include troubleshooting specific concerns, sharing their commercial expertise, promoting public service mutuals and identifying upcoming new projects.

The government has selected people from a wide variety of organisations, including local authorities, mutuals, professional services and business firms, to deliver effective support. All the individuals are leaders in their fields and at Chief Executive Officer or Director Level. Ambassadors include Andrew Burnell, CEO of City Healthcare Partnership, a public service mutual with 1,400 staff and a turnover of around £52 million; and Patrick Lewis, Managing Director of Partnership Services, of the John Lewis Partnership.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

The independent Mutuals Taskforce recommended in their last report that we should coordinate a network of Mutuals Ambassadors, and we have done just that.

These new ambassadors will play a key role in finding solutions to overcome barriers to upcoming and existing mutuals.

We know there are thousands of frontline staff who know how the services they deliver can be run better, and the extra support we have announced today will help them to get there.

In response to feedback from commissioners, today also sees the re-launch of the Mutuals Information Service, a dedicated website for anyone interested in setting up or finding out more about public service mutuals. Commissioners have told us that they benefit from learning about the experiences of other mutuals that have already been through the process. As a result, a new interactive hub has been developed where commissioners can access case studies, ask questions on chat forums and read advice and guidance especially for commissioners.

Notes to editors

  1. The Mutuals Ambassadors Programme will initially run for one year.

  2. The Mutuals Taskforce recommended, in their 2012 report, “Public Service Mutuals: Next Steps”, that the Government should “convene and coordinate a network of Mutuals Ambassadors to drive forward the creation and growth of mutuals on the ground”.

  3. The ambassadors will carry out these activities free of charge; they are not public appointees.

  4. View a list of new Mutuals Ambassadors.

  5. About £1 billion of public services are provided by mutuals. Evidence suggests that public service mutuals can boost productivity by up to 45% by removing bureaucratic systems and wasteful processes. John Lewis, one of Britain’s best known mutuals, continually tops customer satisfaction polls and has half the average staff turnover and sickness absence of the retail sector. The government is supporting public servants who want to form mutuals with a £10million Mutuals Support Programme and Mutuals Information Service, hotline 0845 5390543.

  6. The SOLACE Summit is the UK’s largest gathering of local authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers.

Published 18 October 2012