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Public sector welcomes practical roadmap to employee ownership

03 March 2011

Four of the UK's foremost experts on employee ownership came together today to launch a practical "how to guide" for public sector organisations looking to become employee-led mutuals. The guide was immediately welcomed by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, newly appointed chair of the Prime Minister’s Mutuals Taskforce Professor Julian Le Grand, and public sector workers currently spinning out.

Written by specialists at OPM, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, the Employee Ownership Association and Baxi Partnership, the guide, "How to become an employee owned mutual - an action checklist for the public sector", provides a road map for public sector organisations. It covers the steps required for organisations considering adopting a mutual ownership model, and how employees can give their new enterprise the maximum chance of success.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude said: "There is a real enthusiasm and momentum gathering around mutuals from public sector workers, who for so long have been able to see how things could be done better, but have been held back by bureaucracy and haven't been able to do anything about it. I'm really pleased that the Employee Ownership Association has moved quickly to meet the growing demand for more information.

"I know from visiting many of these organisations how innovative and transformational they can be. We are absolutely committed to supporting public sector workers to form their own employee-led organisations and through our Mutuals Taskforce, Pathfinder programme and Mutuals Support Programme, we are doing everything we can to make sure they have the help they need."

Under the Government's "right to provide” plan, employee owned mutuals will enable public sector employees to own and run the services they provide. The model has already seen thousands of health, local government and civil service staff involved in plans for employee-led mutuals which will become independent operating units delivering public services in their local areas, and sometimes beyond.

The guide was welcomed by several organisations currently in transition to become employee led mutuals. Joanne Hay, Director of Commissioning, Strategy and Performance at Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said: "It is really useful. I have already followed up some of the references and I know lots of people will find this helpful- especially as it is concise and easy to understand." Head of the Department of Innovation at the NHS, Brian Winn agreed: "It's superb - an invaluable document for organisations such as us at an early stage in the process."

EOA executive director Patrick Burns said: "Experience shows that employee owned mutuals need expert help and support from the outset to be successful and sustainable public service providers. This guide offers would-be mutuals the combined expertise of four bodies with unparalleled expertise in employee ownership."

Graeme Nuttall, employee ownership specialist and partner at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, said: "Employee ownership is a versatile business model that has succeeded in a range of sectors and businesses, including the NHS. This guide helps the broader public sector build on these successes."

Hilary Thompson, OPM's chief exec, said: "Drawing on wide knowledge and experience, our aim is to help interested public services to navigate the transition and move to sustainable mutuals."

Baxi Partnership Chief Executive, Peter Stocks said: "There are impossibly tough choices being made right now that will dictate the future of frontline public services for a generation. This guide puts vital practical insight straight into the hands of public service managers to ensure that every new mutual spin out stands a real chance of success."

Last month Francis Maude MP announced the creation of a Government Mutual Taskforce, chaired by Professor Julian Le Grand, to promote reform and support employee owned mutuals across the UK. View a copy of "How to become an employee owned mutual - an action checklist for the public sector".

For further press information, please contact:
Amie Ryalls, PR Executive, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP on +44 (0)20 7861 4995


Notes to editors

Baxi Partnership
The Baxi Partnership strives to be a beacon for mutual and employee ownership. We have a unique ten year track record in offering funding and specialist support to help grow strong, successful employee-led organisations. Our first-hand experience in supporting organisations in both the public and private sectors has shown time and again that giving employees a significant stake in the enterprise they work for, and real participation in how that enterprise is run, produces superior performance and productivity. Our employees have worked with and for the best performing employee owned organisations in the UK. We have supported over 30 transitions, offer a full range of training and development to transform your employee-led culture, and are mentors to the Government’s public sector mutuals programme.

Employee Ownership Association
Recognised by policy makers as the voice of employee owned business, the Employee Ownership Association is a network of over a hundred companies which speaks for a sector of the economy worth over £30 billion annually. With no political ties and governed by its member companies, the Association exists to represent its members and promote employee ownership. The Association’s members include the John Lewis Partnership, alongside public service providers such as Central Surrey Health, Sunderland Home Care Associates, Circle, City Health Care Partnership, Highland Home Carers, Stewartry and A4e. The Association offers a range of expert services to help public sector organisations become employee owned mutuals.

Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP 
Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP is a full service European law firm with offices in Brussels, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Paris London, Manchester and Munich and an exclusive relationship with Italian firm, La Scala. The firm has over 140 partners, 240 other lawyers and nearly 300 support staff. It assists a wide range of international clients, advising across the full range of legal issues. Its Corporate team has experience in transformational projects involving employee ownership, social enterprise and mutual structures, including the ground-breaking transition of the healthcare provider arm of NHS Hull into City Health Care Partnership CIC, the creation of Central Surrey Health Limited and other recent projects.

Office for Public Management (OPM) 
Founded in 1989 as a not-for-profit company, OPM achieved full employee-ownership in 2006. OPM works to achieve improved social results. Its members care about people and public services, work within a strong ethical framework and have wide experience across central government, health, local services and the voluntary and community sector. With deep knowledge of new models for public services and a long track record of supporting organisations and commissioners to achieve change and improvement, OPM is working with public services on how to approach transitions and build successful mutuals, support the development of enterprising leadership and evaluate the impact achieved.