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Government Government

Enable public sector employees to form ‘mutual’ organisations

Last updated: 09:03am 14 November 2019

We know public services are dependent upon the public servants who run them, which is why we will establish in law the freedom for employees to mutualise, where appropriate, within the public sector.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.43

Our verdict

Public service mutuals are mutual organisations (also known as co-operatives, whose employees or customers have shared ownership and control) that have left the public sector but continue to provide public services like health and social care.

The government believes mutual organisations can “have higher productivity than non-mutuals, provide better quality services and outcomes, and have high customer satisfaction and improved staff engagement”. Promoting public service mutuals was a key part of the Conservative Party’s Big Society policy programme launched in 2010. This policy is a promise to legislate to establish the freedom for public sector employees to mutualise.

Since 2017 the government has set up several schemes to promote public service mutuals, including a support fund providing grants to promote the establishment of mutual organisations, and support schemes to assist existing and aspiring public service mutuals. 

However, there have been no plans to change the law to provide a legal right for public sector employees to mutualise. In the absence of any progress towards the promised legislation, we are marking this policy as ‘not started’.

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