Think tank ResPublica publication highlights major role for UK mutuals in economic recovery

Monday, 18 March 2013

“Mutuals, with their emphasis on democratic ownership, user voice, and equity, are increasingly filling the gaps left by the market and the state”

Dame Tessa Jowell, Former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, UK

Last week UK Think Tank ResPublica launched a collection of essays entitled ‘Making it Mutual: The ownership revolution that Britain needs’. The publication calls for a new economic model that extends ownership to all. In the wake of the long-term squeeze on wages and income in the UK, the contributors to this publication argue that a mutual business model is needed that delivers growth that benefits everyone.

Diverse and devolved ownership, power and capital, alongside user, consumer and employee participation in governance and decision-making, are principles that we can all agree with and ones that ICMIF members embody. Unlike any other policy agenda, mutual, employee-owned and cooperative models, and their underpinning ideals, have recently attracted cross-political party support in the UK.

The collections of essays has been edited by Caroline Julian, Senior Researcher at ResPublica, and has a foreword by Cabinet Minister Francis Maude MP. It includes essays that cover all areas of UK policy including financial services as well as education, infrastructure, welfare, public services, competition - and proposes entrepreneurial and innovative policy proposals for structural reform.

'Making it Mutual: The ownership revolution that Britain needs’ draws together forty essays from thought leaders, policy-makers and practitioners, including:

  • Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, on the case for a 'co-operation policy'
  • Martin Shaw, Chief Executive, Association of Financial Mutuals

The essay collection is published just one week ahead of the UK Chancellor's fourth Budget which, the authors of the various essays argue, needs to include an opening up of the standard business model to include new types of entrants and fresh alternatives.

Francis Maude MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said:

“This Government is backing mutual and cooperative business models with unprecedented support…We must continue to develop new ways to do business which give more people a stake in success. This essay collection provides a useful picture of current thinking and I hope it inspires further debate.”

Lawrence Christensen, Marketing Director at ICMIF member organisation benenden health said: ‘We have been practicing a high quality, affordable mutual model of healthcare provision since our foundation in 1905. The model now caters for a membership of over 900,000 people across the UK.

‘We’re pleased to see an important think tank such as Respublica highlighting exactly how organisations such as benenden health can help improve consumer confidence during the current economic climate. This can come through a mutual ethos and active promotion of trust between provider and consumer through a sense of ownership.”

‘Making it Mutual: The ownership revolution that Britain needs’ is available for free download from