Sector news: UK mutuals policy review “The Hunt Review” published today

Friday, 19 December 2014

The UK should emulate its major competitors by fostering a greater role for mutual business in key areas of the economy, says a new policy review published today.

  • A bigger role for mutuals (building societies, credit unions and mutual insurers) to increase diversity and choice in financial services.
  • More employee ownership to share the rewards of work; and
  • A partnership between government and the public to increase investment in growing the economy 

Published today, the Hunt Review makes 37 policy recommendations for increasing the contribution of mutual business to growth, prosperity and fairness in the UK.

The report proposes a greater role for customer and employee owned businesses that contribute to managing risk, promote consumer choice and spread wealth more evenly.

It looks at how mutually owned business can play its full part in Britain's future. From being the birthplace of this idea, the UK now lags behind most of our global competitors, where mutuals play a greater role in financial services, business growth and public service provision.

Author of the Review, Peter Hunt said,

“All of our major economic competitors, from the USA through the European Union to the Far East, make better use of mutually owned business to drive economic growth and spread wealth.

We know that greater diversity of business types will help to protect our economy from damaging shocks such as the financial crisis, yet the UK still remains fixated on a plc mono-culture.

Where business operates in the interests of customers and employees, it deserves the support of politicians. 

There is a positive role for the next government in ensuring that mutuals can play their full part in our economy and society. My report provides a roadmap for helping to make this a reality.”

Key recommendations in the Review include:

  • Ensuring that mutuals play a full part in a diverse and competitive banking industry
  • Giving mutuals the capability to protect themselves from carpet-bagging* 
  • New opportunities for consumers to invest in major infrastructure projects through mutuals
  • Boosting employee ownership, including making employee bonuses portable between employers
  • Improving government policy coordination affecting mutuals

*In the United Kingdom, the term “carpet-bagging” refers informally to those who join a mutual organization in order to force it to demutualize solely for personal financial gain.