Book chapter looks at the role of co-ops in delivering public services

25 Aug 2016

A new book focusing on the partnerships between governments and the third sector features a chapter on the role of co-operatives and mutuals in the provision of public services.

The Third Sector Solution - Delivering public policy in collaboration with not-for-profits and business features contributions from 23 academics and practitioners, including Melina Morrison and Cliff Mills. Their chapter explores the origins of mutuality in self-help and the lessons that can be learnt from the experience of Australia and the UK.

The two experts argue that the origins of public services in the UK and Australia were not legal statues but communities and individuals. The authors of the chapter suggest a different route to creating public sector mutuals by shifting the emphasis from the legal structure to the aim. The essay suggests looking at the services where those involved in providing them want to deliver differently and want to work more closely with users and citizens.

“Real change, shifting emphasis from profit making to benefiting the public can only be brought by people, not by leaders and organisations,” reads the chapter.

The second step suggested by the two authors is to ask whether mutual and co-op principles can help introduce a new vision for the next stage of development of those services. They think that a different approach would also involve service users and care professionals working together, co-operatively, to optimise health and well-being. The essay is available online here.

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