The Myners Report: a response

Nobody can seriously argue that there have not been very serious failures at the highest level in the oversight, stewardship and management of the Co-operative Group’s affairs.  Nor can it be disputed, in my view, that the Group’s democratic structures and processes are dysfunctional.

Where there is scope for very serious discussion is in how to reform the current constitutional arrangements.

The publication of the Report of the Independent Governance Review by Paul Myners on 7th May, with a Special General Meeting taking place on 17th May, leaves woefully inadequate time to digest this 182 page document which contains much very serious and thoughtful material.  It deserves and needs to be digested if the right decisions are going to be made.

I do not believe that they will be, if voting in favour of the current resolution at next Saturday’s members meeting provides a green light for the implementation of the proposals contained in the Myners review; because I believe that those proposals will result in the society ceasing to be a co-operative owned and controlled by its members.

Read more The Myners Report: a response

Co-operative Group Governance: Getting it right, by Cliff Mills


If this was not already beyond doubt, the results just published demonstrate that this is an extremely challenging time for the Co-operative Group. In such circumstances it is important that there is some clarity for those having to make difficult decisions over the coming weeks and months. That is the context in which the following views are put forward.

Read more Co-operative Group Governance: Getting it right, by Cliff Mills

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

Mutuo confirms its presence at International Summit of Cooperatives


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


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.

Mutuo appoints RBH’s Gareth Swarbrick to the Board

Tenants and employees at pioneering social housing mutual Rochdale Boroughwide Housing have a new voice at a national level after Chief Executive Gareth Swarbrick was appointed to the board of mutual think-tank, Mutuo.

Mutuo is a not-for-profit society committed to campaigning for a better understanding of the benefits of mutual businesses, and conducting policy research on issues of importance to the mutual sector.

Mutuo provided advice and support to RBH through the transfer and mutualisation process, and in 2011 Gareth co-authored a Mutuo report entitled “Social Housing: Made Mutual” with Cliff Mills, Mutuo Principle Associate.

Read more Mutuo appoints RBH’s Gareth Swarbrick to the Board

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.