In the past few days the government has announced that it will scrap a £3.3m scheme headed up by the Plunkett Foundation which was offering support to communities seeking to turn local pubs threatened with closure into community-owned co-ops.
And now the Cabinet Office has announced the first twelve ‘pathfinder’ projects (that name will be changed, I bet you!) which will test the spinning-off of public services as mutuals. (You can read Francis Maude’s article here.)
And who will be helping to advise these would-be mutuals? Admittedly, Sunderland Home Care and Baxi are due to be involved, but these seem outweighed by private sector corporates — KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCooper, John Lewis, and Tribal.
Am I the only one that sees key social enterprise and co-op bodies such as SEC and Co-operativesUK being marginalised in this? Or have they in fact painted themselves into a corner? Our key national membership organisations have little if any hands-on development capacity, and on the other hand have spent recent years investing heavily in ‘strategic voice’ functions to which it is increasingly evident no one in government has the slightest intention of listening any longer. Isn’t it time for a rethink — and fast, before those membership subs start to dry up…?