Stepping Out NOW                                July 2015
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What the election means for PSMs

The General Election of May 7th already feels a little distant. So what will the new Government’s approach be to public services in general and public service mutuals in particular?


Despite the lack of early announcements, there is room for optimism. Myself and many others in the sector have been involved for some months now in discussions about how a future PSM policy could operate. Many of these are to be found in the Cabinet Office Challenge Prize submissions from across the sector.


There is a strong feeling in the sector that while we have achieved a lot between 2010 and 2015 (35,000 people moved into PSMs, 106 PSMs launched, £1 billion public sector turnover). 

If we are going to have a material impact in the future, there needs to be a more ambitious approach.


The leading ideas coming from the Challenge Prize process to date were threefold: 


Firstly, the need for a sector-led approach. There is a pressing requirement for the 106 existing PSMs to be given opportunities to play a part in the development of new ones. They need to be able to incubate, support and be part of joint-ventures to create new PSMs. To do this, existing PSMs will need support to become more resilient and commercially capable.  


Secondly, there is a need to be much more ambitious and be targeting not just small groups of public sector workers but whole Councils, NHS Trusts and Government agencies. While there should still be room for smaller, standalone mutuals, there ought to be more focus in the future on larger opportunities.


Thirdly, there is a view that  the best approach to achieving this involves ‘Provider Partnerships’ - combinations of current PSMs, advisory agencies and social finance bodies that come together to make it all happen. To support this, many look to a ‘flagship’ Mutuals Fund which receives some government backing. 


All of these ideas have been well-received in Government but, as we all know, this is an uncertain period in terms of public spending and it is not yet clear as to how all of it might find its way into funded Government policy.  


At Stepping Out, we believe that Government has a strong continuing role to play if it wants to see a thriving PSM sector to rival both the commercial sector and the increasing public service business sector run from statutory bodies themselves. While, ideally, there would no longer be the need for Government backing the sector which is still relatively small and fragile. We need five more years of support, including some robust evaluation of impact, before the PSM sector can stand on its own two feet.

Ask the Expert


Click here to read the responses.

Simon Lee is an associate at Hempsons Solicitors and has provided legal advice to social enterprises, charities, and other community and voluntary sector bodies for over 10 years. He is passionate about the sector and is able to advise on a wide range of matters affecting such organisations including legal structures, contracts, funding and governance issues.
This month we asked Simon the following:


1. What is the most important recent change in legislation that people spinning out need to be aware of?

2. What legal problem do you think is most common for spin-outs?

3. How is this normally solved?

4. What could the new government do to make it easier to spin out?

5. Does the ‘Right to Mutualise’ in the Government’s Manifesto add up to a legal right?  What are we to make of it?

On the Sofa 

This month, we are joined by Siobhan Clarke, Managing Director of Your HealthCare CIC and founding partner in the Albion Care Alliance CIC group enterprise. To read Siobhan's words of wisdom, click here

Good Reads

The politics of mutuals By Craig Dearden-Phillips and Cllr Colin Noble

Why every social entrepreneur should meditate, by Craig Dearden-Phillips

What does a Conservative Government mean for social enterprise? By SEUK

Craig Dearden-Phillips thinks about what the local government sector will look like in 2020 as published in The MJ

What does the General Election result mean for public sector reform? by Craig Dearden-Phillips

Iain Hasdell from EOA writes about the successes of the their last three years ahead of the conference - Read here.

What next for the Social Enterprises who have already spun out of the Public Sector? by Simon Lee of Hempsons


Stepping Out are now on YouTube and over the course of the last three months have been working hard to provide you with some useful content. If you missed out on our WIN! event you can see the speakers slots on the channel. Please take a look and let us know what you think.  

A grant of £500.00 was given to Projects For All for their Hello World Project which is building digital schools for those without formal schooling, read more here.

YouCanHub also received a grant of £500.00 to provide learning opportunities for their You Can Check It Out team. See more about them here.

Lastly, this time, a grant of £500.00 to Your Potential Unlocked. An organisation assisting young people to realise they can think, plan, do and review a project that takes them through a journey of discovery and skills development. Learn more here.


To Stepping Out Aspire: For Intelligent Care and Support - The new Salford new staff owned social enterprise who have this week spun out of Salford Council, to follow activity, click here

Leading Lives are celebrating three years of social enterprise. Well done team Leading Lives.


Chair of Board for Catalyst Choices in Warrington - Apply here

Get your entries in here for the SEUK Awards by 10th July.


Social Enterprise, Work and Wellbeing Conference 2015 - 24th September 2015

Support and investment to grow your business
If you are looking for support to grow your social business contact us 07887 414042 or

Join Our Talent Pool!
We get involved in some fascinating assignments and have associate opportunities for people with particular skills and experience that will help move our clients forward.  If you have a talent that you think those setting up and developing new public service delivery models could benefit from then we’d love to hear from you.  Send a CV and covering note to Rachel Willer at
r and let’s start the conversation.
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