As a cornerstone of its strategy for economic growth and public service reform, the UK government is supporting public service teams that want to spin out into mutual organisations. To this end, in 2010, the Cabinet Office launched the Mutuals Support Programme, a £10 million fund providing practical help to support potential staff-led teams from the initial idea stage, through development and planning into implementation and growth of a new mutual organisation.
Mutuals Information Service
To ensure that the help available through the fund was channelled in the right way, the Cabinet Office commissioned the Mutuals Information Service (MIS) – a first point of contact for organisations and individuals interested in spinning out. The MIS offers an initial advice and sign-posting service for aspiring mutual organisations seeking guidance on developing and launching a spin-out from the public sector.
PA set up the consortium of industry experts to deliver the end-to-end MIS service to provide information, sign-posting and case management. Within two weeks of receiving notification of the contract award, we and our delivery partners had designed, built and delivered a new online service with a full information gathering and diagnostic capability, along with a phone line to handle additional queries. We had also put in place a dedicated service manager and service management arrangements to respond to demand.
To date, more than 200 organisations have progressed through MIS, completing a self-assessment of their progress so far and the help they need, before being assessed by a panel of experts. Following the assessment, eligible projects will be referred to the relevant support offer (below), and will be signposted to self-help support available from the toolkit on the Cabinet Office website.
The support offer
As the level of interest coming forward has grown, the support on offer has developed. The Mutuals Support Programme now offers:
- Mutuals Success development programme (a four-day course to help early stage ideas formulate their commercial thinking and business plans)
- Spin Out support (bespoke support to help the organisation spin-out of the local authority)
- the Going for Growth programme (a six-day course to help newly spun out businesses grow and establish the employee-led culture).
Mutual Success development programme
We were successful through competitive tender to design and develop the Mutuals Success training programme, a bespoke leadership programme for leaders of potential public service mutuals. It equips the mutuals with the skills to change from public service management to more commercialised business leadership.
In its first year, the Mutuals Success development programme has supported more than 40 potential public service mutuals to consolidate or accelerate their development, the majority of which have gone on to access further support from the Mutuals Support Programme in preparation of their readiness to launch.
PA has provided close support to the Cabinet Office during the establishment and management of the Mutual Support Programme and continues to act as a lead partner in development of future support. As an employee-owned business, we are proud to be associated with a programme that is helping to create a new approach to future public service delivery.
In November 2013, we secured the privilege of running its support services for a further term – up to April 2015.