Mutuals and Co-ops

Back to all Motions

2012 Local Government Service Group Conference
15 February 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the continuing interest in co-ops and mutuals from central and local government. The Localism Act effectively gives council employees in England the right to require a service be privatised, and the government the power to fund them to do so. Both the Mutuals Taskforce and Mutuals Information Service are supporting mutuals ‘spun out’ out of existing services and the government has committed to revising legislation on co-operatives before the next election.

Conference also notes the common values of the labour and co-operative movements, in this the UN International Year of Cooperatives. The recently established Co-operative Councils Network brings Labour councils together and excludes mention of outsourcing in its terms of reference.

Conference believes that the Conservative-led government is cynically using mutuals and co-ops as a smokescreen to privatise public services. The Co-operative Party has expressed deep concern about this. Our experience is that mutuals spun out of public services are rarely democratic, and creeping marketisation inevitably leads to the private sector taking over.

However conference also believes that there are shared ideals and values between the labour and co-operative movements. Co-operation and co-production should be at the heart of modernising in-house public services, and give an alternative approach to the ‘enabling council’ model and neo-liberal privatisation.

Conference also notes that small scale community organisations, including co-ops, have always supported mainstream public services in niche areas, and are likely to continue to do so. However where new mutuals are inflicted on public services then we must support members and users affected by this.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Oppose privatisation in all forms, including employee-led privatisation;

2)Support our members faced with mutualisation, including guidance on the issues involved;

3)Seek agreements with the co-operative movement on best practice for co-operatives;

4)Work with councils looking to develop in-house service delivery models involving co-operative ideas in order to seek to promote an alternative progressive agenda;

5)Campaign for “Fair Deal” pension protection for all outsourced workers, including those transferred to mutuals