Finance, procurement, and commissioning teams may already have experience of working with mutuals or social enterprise; many charities and professional organisations operate under this status so the typical finance director may be familiar with their structure and modus operandi.
Under the new environment there will be significant growth of new organisations with a social purpose, some of which may be formed by existing public servants forming a mutual with the aim of providing services in an innovative way. This is a recognised way of engaging staff in the ownership of change and innovation, and avoiding the polarisation and ‘value destruction’ that characterised reforms in the 80s.
Many newly formed organisations will have hybrid characteristics and Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has cleared the way for private capital, commercial managers, assets and sales to feature in the formation of new delivery organisations. In many cases the parent public body will keep a strong interest, share or asset in the enterprise or mutual.
How do you establish such a structure, raise funds, and use assets, while also creating an organisation with genuine autonomy to innovate and deliver services but which protects the parent body from liabilities?
How do you define and negotiate failure regimes in the event that the enterprise is not sustainable but the commissioning organisation retains a statutory responsible for the provision of the service it was delivering? This conference and TV broadcast addressed these issues while showcasing best practice examples and models from throughout the UK.