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100 Mutuals Celebrated

by Craig Dearden-Phillips 23/07/2014

CDP no 10 door

Today we are marking the 100th Mutual with an event at Downing St.  

This is indeed a day to raise a glass to all of the mutuals - and of course to all of those behind the scenes too, including the support agencies and public officials.

When I last heard the Cabinet Office Minister speak about all of this, he used the term a beginning - and, significant through this is, we are indeed at the early stages of something, not its end point.

With this in mind, we have now to give some serious thought about how we can use the momentum created so far to push on to the next 100, 1000 spin-outs.

Whatever we come up with for this next 'era' has to cope with a new administration in 2015 - which may have its own ideas about the right place for public services, the possibility, though many of us hope not,  the loss of a genuine  'Mutuals Champion' in the form of the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP.

Added to this, and perhaps most importantly, 2015-20 will, under any administration, see fiscal austerity which will mean any new mutual not only has to transfer out but also  transform services in double-quick time  into more viable, affordable formats.   Gone will be the days of the soft-landing!

Of course, none of the above need be viewed necessarily as a threat.   It is all, potentially, an opportunity.   What we now have is 100 organisations, many capable of leading and supporting new mutuals into existence, either as independent organisations, part of networked organisations or joint ventures.   There are leaders to look at, case studies, some facts about what's really involved.  There has never been a better time to do this.

Strategically, divestment into a mutual is now not only backable from an investment point of view but also an increasingly proven fast-track to the 21st century public services that we all want to see.   As a small number of NHS Trust is looking, possibly, to mutualise, we can confidently say that regardless of the outcome of the next General Election, there is, after many years of effort, now a living, breathing sector full of vibrant, optimistic, can-do people  that is ready, willing and able to take on a bigger role in the growth of the sector, whatever resources the state decides to direct at mutuals in the future. 

Today's gathering in 10 Downing St  is indeed a time to celebrate - and to encourage this incredible sector to help create 1000 new mutuals. 

Let's  drink to that.

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