Stepping Out NOW                                         August 2014
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Time to push on to #1000

Last week an event at Downing Street celebrated the birth of the 100th Public Service Mutual.
The considerable efforts behind the emergence of these new social businesses – and the difference they are making to public service delivery – is definitely something to celebrate. 

This must, though, only represent the ‘end of the beginning’ - we are at the early stages of something, not its end point; but we’re also several years into this movement and need to reflect on how to push more quickly from 100 to 1000 spin outs. 

The context for spin outs remains challenging – most significantly 2015-20 will, under any administration, see fiscal austerity which will mean all new mutuals will not only have to transfer out but also transform services in double-quick time  into more viable, affordable formats.   Gone will be the days of the soft-landing!

However, what we have from the first 100 mutuals is a growing body of evidence of what is possible when services are divested in this way and an ever-expanding ‘playbook’ of how to overcome the technical challenges of transitioning services out of local authorities and the NHS.

We also have amongst the 100 mutuals organisations capable of leading and supporting new mutuals into existence, either as independent organisations, part of networked organisations or joint ventures.   There are also inspiring leaders to learn from and their case studies to advise others embarking on this journey.

Strategically, divestment into a mutual is now not only backable from an investment point of view but also an increasingly proven fast-track to the 21st century public services that we all want to see.   The Ham Review – considering the evidence on enhanced staff engagement – has reignited the interest in mutuals as a strategy for NHS Trusts. 

The 100 Mutuals is a marker that after many years of effort, there is now a living, breathing sector full of vibrant, optimistic, can-do people  that are ready, willing and able to transform public services, regardless of the resources the State decides to direct at mutuals in the future.

Last week’s celebration in 10 Downing St is indeed a time to celebrate - and to encourage this incredible sector to help create 1000 new mutuals.

-- Craig


Brooks Newmark was appointed as Minister for Civil Society on 15 July 2014 and on his first day came to Cambridge to visit the Future Business Centre, our home and HQ. Stepping Out wish him well in his new role.

The Minister for Civil Society works with the Minister for the Cabinet Office on public sector efficiency and reform, including transparency and fraud, error and debt.

The minister is also responsible for:

  • volunteering, the Big Society agenda and charities
  • social investment and enterprises
  • reforming public bodies
To read more about Brooks and the role click here

Whilst the Stepping Out team are ambitious and look to the future of the first #1000mutuals we have also been busy remembering how hard the first #100mutuals have worked and some of those we have had the privilege to work with.

A special event was held for them at 10 Downing Street this month and Rt Hon Francis Maude MP gave a very inspiring speech which you can read here.

*** NEW FUND ***
Delivering Differently for Young People - A £500,000 fund laid out to support up to 10 local authorities in thinking about how they deliver services to young people in a different way.

Ask The Expert

Mette Le Jakobsen is the Partnerships Director at Optalis Local Authority Trading Company

How can established spin outs help Local Authorities avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’ when setting up an alternative delivery model in adult social care?

It is by now well understood that all local authorities are facing pressures to their budgets like never before.  In the world of social care, the Care Act and the Better Care Fund are marching towards us fast, creating an unprecedented set of challenges for Councils and a need for decisive solutions.

There has been no shortage of innovation in the field to date: a range of Mutuals, Social Enterprises and more than a dozen Local Authority Trading Companies have sprung up around the country – a quiet revolution is happening in social care.

Deciding to spin out your in-house social care service is a big step, and frankly, not for the fainthearted.  Spinning out takes a great deal of focus, energy and investment and comes with a degree of risk with respect to quality, financial performance, staff morale etc.

A model which is increasingly taking hold is that of partnering with an already proven entity.  Why go it alone if instead you can partner with an organisation which has already spun out successfully, and has shown that it can achieve success financially and in delivering quality adult social care services?

Partnerships can offer a local authority access to a trusted partner and guide, thereby significantly reducing the risks, the investment required, and offering the prospect of achieving success in a shorter timeframe.

A Partnership can still present a locally-focussed solution.  The features of the Teckal Exemption, for example, allow an already established LATC to partner with a local authority to create an entirely new entity designed to respond to the needs and ambitions of the specific Council and its communities.  In this way, a LATC partner – like my organisation Optalis – can offer a Council the benefits of experience, expertise and established resources to more smoothly deliver the innovative change and lasting solutions needed.

To read more about what Optalis do click to their website here.


Mette Le Jakobsen
Partnerships Director at Optalis
Local Authority Trading Company


Are you looking for an interesting opportunity to develop your leadership skills and join a new Executive Committee guiding a growing social enterprise? If so click here

Of Note

Stepping Out have launched our new website here

Chiltern Rangers have launched their own You Tube Channel. See some truly inspiring films about what they do.

Sarah Sharlott has been spreading the word for Realise Futures on BBC Radio Suffolk 

Leading Lives celebrated their third year since spinning out and we send out Birthday wishes to the whole team

Good Reads:

The Ham Report - Review of Staff Engagement and Empowerment in the NHS

The UK's National Health Service wants in on social enterprise

5 steps to kickstart your social impact measurement

Social value: a sustainability buzzword without a meaning?

Social care services 'unsustainable' 


12th - 18th August - Leading Lives activity week

12th September - Social Enterprise East of England Annual Conference

17th September - Stepping Out's Breakfast Meeting with Directors of Adult Social Care in the North West. If you would like to attend please inform us by email
19th September - Deadline for entries to the GSK Impact Awards

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 Rob Fountain at and let’s start the conversation.
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