The Government’s reform plans rely heavily on the public service mutuals programme, but there is a failure across local and central government to understand what it is about. This is the conclusion the employee ownership all party parliamentary group.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has predicted that by 2015 up to one million current public sector workers, 15 per cent of the existing workforce, will be employee owners and partners in mutuals delivering public services.
The MP’s report Sharing ownership; the role of employee ownership in public service delivery, confirms that the benefits of employee-led ownership, including increased engagement and productivity, are being felt by public sector employees and service users. However, it needs still stronger support and communication from central government if it is to build on its initial success.
The Group’s report backs vigorous coordination and leadership from the Cabinet Office, supported by the Prime Minister, in order for all government departments and local authorities to step up action that will allow viable ‘employee mutuals’ to run public services.
Chair of the Group, Jesse Norman MP, said, “The Coalition Government has made significant progress with their commitment to employee ownership in public sector services. Nonetheless, evidence from our inquiry suggests that more is needed to connect would-be mutuals with experts who have genuine experience in an advisory role, and to ensure that the expertise is affordable for organisations which may well be initially financially vulnerable and under pressure to perform”.
He added, “Mutual and co-owned models offer a hugely exciting long-term opportunity to transform the way in which many of our public services are provided, for the benefit of employees, users and the taxpayer alike. Employee ownership in the public sector is to be encouraged, and in the coming months we on the APPG will pursue our recommendations with Government and with other influential bodies to ensure that employee ownership continues to grow.”