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Public Sector Mutuals

Volume 592: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2015

The Government are committed to supporting the growth of public service mutuals, which deliver benefits to front-line staff, commissioners and service users. There are now more than 100 live mutuals delivering well over £1.5 billion of public services, and more than 35,000 staff have themselves taken the decision to join a mutual.

I thank the Minister for his answer, but with the flagship mutual, Hinchingbrooke hospital, in special measures, will the Minister say whose idea it was to write to all the foundation and NHS trusts asking them to be pathfinder mutuals, and how many people have replied?

Mr Speaker, the

“failure of Circle at Hinchingbrooke hospital…where the company very nearly managed to remove an operating loss inherited from the public sector, was due to the failure of the NHS to deliver its side of the bargain”—

not my words, but the words of Tom Levitt, the former Labour MP for High Peak. Yes, a lot of NHS trusts have applied for the Department of Health and Cabinet Office mutual pathfinder programme, and all of that is progressing very satisfactorily. There are huge benefits for patients in this movement. We should all be concerned with that, not with an outworn, outdated ideology.

May I say how sad I was to hear that my right hon. Friend would be standing down at the next election? Singlehandedly, he has done more than anyone to reform the home civil service. What companies has he been in contact with to advise him on how public service mutuals might work better?

I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s kind remarks. This will be the second time I have left the House of Commons—the first time was not entirely consensual—and I shall be sorry to leave, although I think I have one more outing this time before the House dissolves.

Many businesses in the private sector operate as mutuals—John Lewis prominent among them—and they have been generous in their support for this programme because they think that employee ownership and control also benefit service users, which should be our overriding concern.