Mutuals’ Redeemable and Deferred Shares Bill

Redeemable-shares-14We need your help: contact your MP

The Mutuals Redeemable and Deferred Shares Bill will have its first reading on Thursday 5th June.

Use the form below to contact your MP to ensure that they help the Bill through Parliament by encouraging the Government to make time for debate.

Afterwards you will also be able to contact a Member of the House of Lords to ensure that they support the Bill too.

To contact to your MP, or a Member of the House of Lords, about the Bill, please click here.

Reviewing Co-operative Governance

The Co-operative Group Constitutional ReviewLord Myners is currently reviewing the governance structure of the Co-operative Group.  This is not the first review – Mutuo contributed to such a project in 2007.  Of course the context was different from today, but many of the key issues around co-operative business governance remain the same.

Today, Mutuo is re-publishing its report for the 2007 Review, called ‘21st Century Pioneers.’  It was drafted by a range of experts in co-operative business structures, including Cliff Mills, Ian Snaith, Peter Hunt and a range of academics.

Read more Reviewing Co-operative Governance

Time to get tough on football authorities, say MPs

Parliamentary group mutuals

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Mutuals has called on the Government to take urgent action to improve the way that football club owners behave towards supporter groups.

In a report that is critical of the attitudes the Football Association, Premier League and Football League exhibit towards the ownership of clubs, MPs have called for them to be directed to protect the interests of supporters.

Read more Time to get tough on football authorities, say MPs

Mutuo confirms its presence at International Summit of Cooperatives

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Mutuo has confirmed its presence at the International Summit of Cooperatives Exhibition to be held in Quebec in October 2014.

Mark Willetts said: “We are delighted to be attending the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives. For us this is a unique opportunity to meet once again with some of the leading global businesses in the mutual and co-operative sector, to share ideas and strategies for growth. We are particularly pleased to be taking part in the international exhibition which promises to be even bigger and better than the 2012 Summit.”

Mutuals Yearbook 2013

Mutuals' Yearbook 2013Since 2008 when the Mutuals Yearbook was first published, the world around us has changed significantly. It is clear that all mutual organisations have endured a difficult economic climate in which to operate. Our members have had their own pressures and have had to face some searching questions about the soundness of the mutual model.

However, the sector has continued to grow both in terms of the numbers employed (970,000 in UK in 2013 compared to 844,000 in UK in 2008) and income (increasing from £84bn in 2008 to £115bn in 2013). These figures are a testament to the people who work in the mutual sector, but more importantly, to the fact that many people still uphold the principles of co-operation and mutuality. Read more Mutuals Yearbook 2013

2014 International Summit of Co-operatives

The International Summit of Co-operatives is a biennial gathering where leaders of cooperative and mutualist enterprises get together to discuss their concerns about the current and future business challenges they all share.

The next summit is being held in Quebec City from October 6-9th & Mutuo will be taking part.

Raising New Capital in Mutuals: Taking Action in the UK

New capitalBy their very nature, mutuals are limited in how they can raise capital. Like all businesses, they can retain profits and can borrow against future earnings, but they have no equity shareholders and so do not have access to this type of prime capital.

These restrictions are well known and mean that the debate around capital in mutuals is not new. To date however, in the UK at least, mutuals have not made significant alterations to their basic capital framework, which was designed more than 150 years ago.

Read more Raising New Capital in Mutuals: Taking Action in the UK

Mutuo events at this year’s Party Conferences

Mutuo has will be holding fringe meetings at each of the three main Party Conferences this September/October.

The fringe meetings will discuss the possibility of amending the capital regime in mutuals to permit the injection of external capital, whilst safeguarding both the core purpose and mutual integrity of the business. We can point to existing examples of where this has been achieved in other countries such as Canada and The Netherlands.

Read more Mutuo events at this year’s Party Conferences

Mutuals’ Redeemable Shares Bill: Write to your MP

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We need your help: contact your MP

Use the form below to contact your MP to ensure that they help the Mutuals’ Redeemable Shares Bill through Parliament by encouraging the Government to make time for debate.

Afterwards you will also be able to contact a Member of the House of Lords to ensure that they support the Bill too.

To contact to your MP, or a Member of the House of Lords, about the Bill, please click here.

Mutuals for Real

The Centre for Mutual and Employee owned Business at Kellogg College Oxford has joined forces with FPM (a specialist public services leadership consultancy) and Cliff Mills of Mutuo to develop a series of three cutting edge seminars.

Each seminar will provide you with:

• A new understanding of how mutual organisations are able to contribute to public provision – community benefit and multi-stakeholder models as well as employee owned businesses.
• An up to the minute summary of progress so far on the mutualisation – what services have taken the mutual route? How many? How long has it take? What has it cost? Success/failures and lessons learnt.
• An opportunity to think, reflect and work through the key questions that you need to answer to ensure the successful development of a new mutual.
• Where to go for support, advice and information – including how to approach the Cabinet Office Mutuals Support Fund.

For more information, please click here.

Big society versus new mutualism

Peter Hunt’s article for Australian Policy online

‘Big Society’ has been a flagship policy of the UK Coalition Government, centred around ideas of localism, volunteerism and devolving government service delivery to public sector mutuals. In low revenue environments, public sector mutuals offer a potential panacea to the rising costs of essential services in areas such as disabilities, health and education, whilst delivering the much touted benefits of community management structures. Read more Big society versus new mutualism

2010 Mutuals Manifesto: Progress update

Two and a half years ago Mutuo was commissioned to produce a Mutuals Manifesto on behalf of the mutual sector.  This summary provides an overview on the Government’s progress to date on implementing these policy objectives.

We continue to work closely with the Government and Opposition Parties on policies and later this year we will be producing a Mid-Term manifesto in preparation for the next General Election in 2015.

 

Government should ensure that mutuals are understood and receive equal treatment across all Government departments

In the Government’s Coalition Agreement in 2010, it stated its desire to foster diversity in financial services, promote mutuals and create a more competitive banking industry.

‘We will bring forward detailed proposals to foster diversity in financial services, to promote mutuals and create a more competitive banking industry.’

 

Create a Government Office for Mutuals with a designated Minister for Mutuals

While there is a Minister in the Treasury who is responsible for legislations affecting co-operatives and financial mutuals, a specific multi disciplinary Minister for Mutuals has not yet been created.

 

Government should commit to alter the terms and approach of Regulatory Authorities to match Government policy (and promote mutuals)

Government has legislated to change the regulatory framework for Financial Services. During the passage of this legislation, the opposition pushed for the new Regulator’s responsibilities to include the promotion of mutuals but the Government rejected this proposal.

 

Government should support the Ownership Commission

The Government engaged positively with the work of the Commission on Ownership. This was demonstrated by the fact that The Rt Hon Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business attended and spoke at the launch of the Commission’s Report in 2012.

 

Government should evaluate returning Northern Rock to the mutual sector

Government did not do this and sold it at a discount to Virgin Money.  However, although the Government decided to sell Northern Rock to Virgin Money, it did demonstrate its commitment to diversity in the financial sector and the important presence of mutuals in that mix by supporting The Co-operative Group to become the preferred bidder for 632 Lloyds branches which must be disposed off to comply with competition rules.

 

Public services should be supported to convert to mutuals 

Public Service Mutuals: The Cabinet Office established the Mutuals information Service, Mutuals Taskforce and the Mutuals Support Programme as a sign of their commitment to establishing new mutuals in public services.
The Mutuals Information Services is run by the Cabinet Office and gives advice and support to help public servants take over and run their organisations as mutual organisations. The Mutuals Taskforce is a group of mutual practitioners who advise the Cabinet Office and the Mutuals Support Programme refers to the £10 million which has been provided by Government in the form of grants to aspiring spin outs.  In the Government’s Mid-Term Review in January 2013, they stated that, “We will continue to support public sector workers who want to establish mutuals, and provide service commissioners with the information they need to support the creation of mutuals and co-operatives. We will continue to develop ‘Right to Provide’ policies that will enable mutual and co-operative organisations to deliver a wider range of public services.”
Although, the Government’s focus has almost exclusively been on mostly employee-led mutuals being spun out to run public services, this is nonetheless a step in the right direction.

Post Office Mutual: The Department for Business agreed to support turning the Post Office into a mutual and engaged Mutuo to advise the Post Office on how this might be achieved. This was then conducted through a feasibility paper.
Following this, the Government introduced enabling legislation and while this was passing through Parliament, they published a Consultation Document entitled, ‘Building a Mutual Post Office’. This Consultation was then completed after the legislation had been passed into law.  The Post Office are now taking this work forward in their business plan.

 

A regulator should be established to drive quality corporate competence

There has been no action on this point to date, but the formation of the Mutuals Information Service, Mutuals Task Force and the Mutuals Support Programme are a step in the right direction.

 

Ensure that mutual sector legislation keeps pace with company law reform

Credit Unions and Co-operatives Legislation: The main law governing credit unions is the Credit Unions Act 1979. A Legislative Reform Order (LRO) was made by Parliament and changes to the Credit Unions Act came into force on 8th January 2012. The changes remove restrictions in the current law and allow credit unions to serve many more people and use the increased flexibility to provide the services that people need.  The LRO changes also affected co-operatives by making changes in three key areas:

Young People: Allowing people 16 and under to become members of co-operatives and those 16 and over to stand for committees or boards; Share Capital: The £20,000 limit on share capital will now apply only to withdrawable shares; there will no longer be a limit on non-withdrawable, i.e. transferable, shares; Interim Accounts: The LRO allows societies to publish un-audited interim accounts provided they are clearly identified and published alongside the most recent audited accounts. This is a change that will save co-operative businesses thousands of pounds in expense.

Electronic communications in the mutual sector: In December 2010, the Government launched a consultation proposing to amend legislation to facilitate the use of electronic communications (such as email and internet) by the mutual sector. The consultation covered building societies, friendly societies, industrial and provident societies, credit unions and mutual societies. The consultation closed in January 2011 and Statutory Instruments have now been made in Parliament.

Consolidation of Co-operatives Legislation: In January 2012 Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the government would refer the legislation governing co-operatives to the Law Commission.  The announcement means that the 17 separate pieces of legislation governing the sector, much of which dates back to 1965 and has been developed piecemeal, may now be consolidated into one Act.