The current economic and political imperative is to promote ways of organising finance, risk, public service and enterprise, that are both dynamic and responsible at the same time. For a while, ‘social enterprise’ appeared to offer a third way, between state and market; today, we’re told that it is the ‘Big Society’.
Regulators and policy-makers are seeking principles via which to distinguish the ‘socially useful’ parts of the private sector, from those which seek only to inflate private earnings as fast as possible. Mutualism adds much-needed clarity to all of this, by offering well understood, viable organisational structures, that are entirely alien to both Whitehall and the deal-makers in the City.
The organisations and sectors described in this report all share an ethos, that treats profit as a possible side-effect of co-operation and worthwhile service delivery, but never the purpose. Now that Britain has painfully discovered that money cannot be magically turned into more money, without hard work, long-term commitment and good management in between. There is a pressing need to learn from, expand and add to these mutuals, in both public and private sectors.