Creating a whole new sector of enterprise

TEN YEARS ago I set up Conservatives for Change or CChange – a group pushing for modernisation of the Conservative party at a time when it was deeply unpopular.

We also set up Policy Exchange, now the country’s leading policy think tank. Our task was to help the Conservative Party become a credible modern candidate for government. This task was accomplished. But it is never complete. Society moves on and we have to move too.

A challenge for today is driving forward on ownership. We must go much further than a renewal of the right to buy – long overdue - if we are to give people back a sense of control over their destiny.

A central means will be by encouraging mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises to spin out of the public sector so that workers can have accountability and responsibility for what they do.

We have started already: today more than £1bn of NHS services are provided by mutuals.

We have introduced a Mutuals Pathfinder to demonstrate the benefits of employee-led organisations across public services.

Giving staff ownership over their work – even if not in a financial sense – can dramatically improve productivity.

The benefits to the taxpayer of this improved productivity are obvious – and users benefit from a greater choice of services.

To drive this further this Government is developing a suite of Rights to Provide where public sector workers can request to take over the running of services.

The state is an inherently monopolistic entity and a state monopoly can be the enemy of enterprise. Within the public sector there is a legion of entrepreneurs, fired with the public service ethos but deeply frustrated with the constraints imposed by the monolith within which they are imprisoned.

Liberating them as leaders of a new cohort of public service mutuals will create a whole new enterprise sector in our economy.

And by spreading ownership they can help give the state back to the people. We need to allow society to thrive thanks to the state and not despite it.

The greatest tool for this is transparency. Knowledge, as Francis Bacon said, is power and greater transparency can lead to a rebalancing of power and accountability – between governments and large organisations - and individuals.


MP for Horsham