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Maude expects public service mutuals growth

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has stated that the government is “determined to drive up public sector productivity” through the expansion of new spin-out companies part-owned by staff.

Speaking at a Downing Street reception, he will describe how 100 mutuals are delivering nearly £1.5bn of public services, while employing 35,000 people.

However, the mutuals have been condemned by unions which feel the government’s actions are an attempt at ‘privatisation through the back door’.

Currently, the Cabinet Office has a £10m programme which has helped the development of mutuals. Maude said: “As part of our long-term plan for a stronger economy we are determined to drive up public sector productivity, which flat lined from 1997 to 2010. We need innovative new ways of delivering better services for less money, so we are helping public sector workers spin out to form mutuals.

“There are now 100 public sector mutuals across England and Wales. These are new businesses, employing 35,000 people and delivering services from community health to libraries.”

But a Public and Commercial Services Union spokesperson told PSE that forcing through mutuals, often against the will of the workforce, is a staging post on the way to privatisation.

He said: “Francis Maude has been very clear in the past that he would have no problem with mutuals being fully hived off in the future, so the trajectory is very clear that privatisation is what they want to do – just in a different way.

“When they set up the first, and currently the only mutual, in the civil service MyCSP – the public sector pension provider – it was opposed by the staff to such an extent that they took industrial action against it. So the word mutual in that sense loses all its meaning.”

It was also suggested to PSE that if public services are hived off in the future it could lead to further job losses in the sector.

(Image: c. Cabinet Office)

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