Press release

The mutual futures of public services in Swindon

Nurses, physiotherapists, doctors and other professionals planning to form a Big Society mutual in Swindon met Francis Maude and Charlie Mayfield.

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

Nurses, Physiotherapists, Doctors and other Professionals planning to form a Big Society mutual to join up adult health and social care services in Swindon, today shared their ambitions with Francis Maude Minister for the Cabinet Office and Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership. 

On the visit, Francis Maude announced that Julian Le Grand, Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics, will lead a new Mutuals Taskforce to drive reform at the centre of government with the Prime Minister’s backing. He also announced a second wave of Mutual Pathfinders including Stockport Further Education College and Blackpool’s Nurse-led Therapy Unit, the first spin out from a Foundation Trust. As well as expert mentors to help them flourish including A4e and the Innovation Unit.  

Swindon Intermediate Care Centre Commissioned by NHS Swindon and Swindon Borough Council is part of one of the first Mutual Pathfinders, leading the way for many other public sector entrepreneurs who want to take ownership of the services they provide. John Lewis Partnership is sharing its experience of employee ownership with the Swindon pathfinder to help it develop its plan to become a mutual. 

Francis Maude and Charlie Mayfield met staff and services users as well as Heather Mitchell, Acting Chief Executive of NHS Swindon and Gavin Jones, Chief Executive of Swindon Borough Council. They discussed how joining the council run social care services with the NHS health services had delivered real improvements for people. They also heard how joining procurement had created efficiencies and offered greater value for money to the taxpayer.

 Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

When you take power away from bureaucrats and give it to people on the ground they often come up with better, more efficient ways of doing things, this is the essence of the Big Society agenda. Public sector professionals have been held back by the limitations of top-down control, their commitment to serving people has been ignored in favour of targets and regimented structures.

Here in Swindon, people at the top of the local authority and local NHS are working together with front line staff to challenge old systems and do a better job for the people they serve. I believe their lead will help inspire public service entrepreneurs to transform public services into a vibrant innovative sector teeming with different models of provider that join up different services and break down the state barriers that hold back front line staff from delivering excellence.  

He added:

Already we’ve had huge interest from front line staff who want to mutualise their services. The new Mutuals Taskforce, led by Professor Julian Le Grand, will inject real momentum this agenda. The Taskforce will work with front line staff who can see how to do things better and to make sure their ‘rights to provide’ are upheld.

I’m very grateful to Charlie Mayfield for joining me on this visit. John Lewis Partnership and all the Pathfinder mentors are contributing a great deal to helping us develop better public services for the future.Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said:

As Britain’s largest employee-owned business, we believe that employee ownership has the potential to empower front-line workers to achieve a high level of customer service.  To that end we are happy to share our experience with the public sector and help to identify some of the enablers and barriers to success.’

 Professor Julian Le Grand, Chairman of the Mutuals Taskforce said: 

I am very pleased that the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with the full support of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, has asked me to chair the new Mutuals Taskforce.  I have long advocated the development of employee-owned mutuals and professional partnerships as a way of improving public services, and am delighted to be part of the process of driving these exciting ideas further across Whitehall and beyond.

 Other experts who it is also announced today will join the Mutuals Taskforce are:

  •  Patrick Lewis, John Lewis
  • Jo Prithcard, Central Surrey Health
  • Ed Mayo, Coops UK
  • Patrick Burns, Employee Ownership Association
  • Peter Marsh, University of Sheffield; and
  • Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise Coalition.

 The new Pathfinder organisations announced by Francis Maude today are:

  • Commissioning Support for London
  • Salvere CiC operating adult care and support services in Blackburn
  • The London Borough of Havering exploring the transfer of Youth and Library Services into employee-led mutuals
  • Stockport Further Education College
  • New Start Family Services, Cambridgeshire
  • London Borough of Newham creating a new model of delivery in Children’s and Young People’s early intervention services
  • The Nurse-led Therapy Unit spinning out of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sunshine Care, Rochdale

In addition, Evolve YP which is currently taking part in the Department for Education’s ‘Social Work Practices’ pilot will join the Pathfinder programme gaining support from both government initiatives.

The new mentors to offer their support to fledgling public service mutuals:

  • A4e
  • Innovation Unit
  • Stepping Out
  • Mutual Ventures
  • The Cooperative College
  • FosterCare Cooperative
  • Cobbetts Solicitors
  • Bates Wells and Braithwaite

 Mentors may also be drawn from the UnLtd Connect network.

Local Partnerships, the Employee Ownership Association and Co-ops UK offer advice to public sector staff wanting to form a mutual organisation. The Mutuals hotline number is: 020 7296 6705

Notes to editors

In November Francis Maude announced the Government’s plans to introduce ‘rights to provide’ enabling service staff to form mutuals and spin out from the state service provider:

A video with more detail on support for mutuals can be viewed at:

For more information on John Lewis Partnership please contact Neil Spring  020 7592 6296

Interview requests for Professor Le Grand should be directed to: Jessica Winterstein, LSE Press and Information Office 020 7107 5025.

CAB - 019/11

Published 2 February 2011