New Mutuals are Future of Public Service Delivery
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude has said mutual organisations have a big role to play in increasing productivity in the public sector. The Minister was speaking during a visit to social enterprise and employee owned co-operative, Leading Lives in Ipswich and was accompanied by MP for Ipswich, Ben Gummer.
Leading Lives supports 1,200 adults with learning disabilities across Suffolk through community hubs, short break respite services, in the home and out and about in the community. The organisation was formed following Suffolk County Council's strategic decision to externalise services. Leading Lives is now the biggest worker owned co-operative in the UK and is also one of the top six social care co-operatives in the UK.
The minister was making the visit to see at first-hand how the organisation has progressed since divesting from Suffolk County Council. In particular, he was keen to understand more about Leading Lives structure as an employee owned co-operative. Employee ownership is embedded right through the governance of the company with front-line staff elected by their peers as employee directors. He also talked to staff about their experience of transferring from the public into the private mutual sector and met some of Leading Lives customers attending the New South West Community Hub, in Ipswich.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said: "Every part of the public sector is having to adapt to tough economic times and look at innovative ways of delivering public services. We know that mutuals and joint ventures, SMEs and the voluntary sector offer the chance of driving up productivity everywhere. Social enterprises like Leading Lives have a big role to play in building a more diverse marketplace of suppliers. As an employee-owned organisation, it is demonstrating how the flexibility of this model can provide better value for money and better services for customers."
Leading Lives has received support from the Cabinet Office Social Enterprise Investment Fund and Investment and Contract Readiness Fund programmes since it was established just under two years ago to enable the organisation to make the transformation from former public service to a new mutual business.
Leading Lives Managing Director, Tony Carr said: "We were delighted to be able to welcome the Minister, Francis Maude. We understand, that at Leading Lives, we are playing our part locally in the transformation of how public services are delivered across the country. It is very encouraging for all our staff to be recognised as a good example of a new public service mutual business. Since we divested from Suffolk County Council, we have worked very hard to set up a progressive business model as an employee owned co-operative, putting those who are in closest contact with our customers at the heart of how our business is run, whilst concentrating on providing effective and responsive service to vulnerable adults and their family carers."
For more information, please contact Brigit Parker, Marketing & Communications Manager, Leading Lives on 01473 406777 or 07455 232915 or email firstname.lastname@example.org