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Written Statement - Update on Public Service Co-operatives and Mutuals

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Leighton Andrews, Minister for Public Services and Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport

Earlier this year we commissioned work to examine the potential role of co-operatives and mutuals in public service delivery.  The work was commissioned through the Wales Cooperative Centre and carried out by Keith Edwards. 

Today we have published the report ‘Is the Feeling Mutual?’ setting out the findings of this work.  

The report provides a comprehensive overview of the current position in relation to co-operatives and mutuals in public service delivery and the potential for this role to be developed as an alternative to ceasing or privatising services.  The report goes on to summarise the position of, and potential role in driving change, of all the key organisations with an interest.  Before proposing ways in which a co-operative transformation of public services could be supported.

The report makes it clear that there is already significant activity in this area across public services but there is scope to make these developments stronger and more sustainable and, in doing so, to protect the interests of the communities which use these services and the workforce which delivers them.

The report showcases good examples of co-operative and mutual models in action and delivering for communities in Wales.  This positive story should not be a surprise; Wales has always pioneered co-operative models.  The 2014 Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act legislates for the creation of co-operative and mutual models in social care.  In eleven local authorities in Wales, tenants voted for community mutual or social enterprise solutions for the management of their social housing.

As well as recognising positive developments in Wales, there are also good examples we can drawn on from elsewhere. 

There is an opportunity to see the innovation and creativity evident in some places spreading more widely and, in doing so, ensuring that vital services still continue.

The report proposes further action in a number of areas and these areas for action touch on the portfolios of several Ministers.  Over the summer, with the support of colleagues, we will be developing an action plan to implement the proposals in the report.  We will also be using that time to engage the full range of partners with an interest in this area and secure their support for taking things forward.

We will provide a further update to Members when the action plan is published in the autumn.