Civil service pensions admin company becomes “joint venture mutual”

An announcement by the Cabinet office — dating back to last April — has just been brought to my attention (thanks to Chris Newis at BDRC).

Apparently, My Civil Service Pension (MyCSP) is the first central government department to be spun-out as a mutual joint venture.

The new business is owned jointly (according to ComputerWeekly!) by its 475 staff, a private sector company, and the government. Logging on to the MyCSP website I see that it now announces “working in association with Capita Hartshead”, so I suppose we can assume that Capita won the tender to be the private sector partner in the joint venture.

Pinsent Masons’ Out-Law.com site also covers the story — and much more recently (Feb 2012), quoting a government spokesperson as saying that the plan is to have “one million public sector staff part of similar arrangements by 2015”. That would represent 15-20% of the public sector workforce.

Labour has said (according to coverage in the Guardian) that ministers are not really promoting true co-operatives but instead is redefining co-ops to include entities that are majority-owned by private shareholders but where there is a minority stake held by workers.

I don’t know enough about the mutual joint venture model the government is pushing but it does seem worth wondering whether it includes an asset lock that prevents the enterprise being “demutualised”. Does anyone know?

Phil Bartlett, employee leader and chief executive of MyCSP, is quoted as saying that the mutual idea had “captured people’s imagination”. This seems a slight exaggeration given that coverage of this development has been pretty muted.

The Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) says that the majority of its members are opposed to the new business structure and has called for an overtime ban from October 2011. PCS says MyCSP is merely a “quasi-mutual private enterprise” and “not real mutual in the accepted sense of the term”.

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