Karen Allen

I fought South Shields at the May 2010 General Election for the Conservatives, gaining a 6.4% swing which was a 4% vote increase. The Conservatives polled 7,886 up from 5,207 in 2005. I was born in the North East and grew up in South Shields. I currently live in London and am employed as a Director at Lloyd's Broker Howden International.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Conservative Proposals for Public Sector Co-Operatives

This week, George Osborne announced that a Conservative government will give public sector workers a powerful new right to form employee owned co-operatives to take over the services they deliver. This will empower millions of public sector workers to become their own boss and help them to deliver better services. With 40 per cent of staff in the public sector saying that morale is low in their organisation, compared to only 16 per cent in the private sector, empowering public sector workers to become their own boss will boost employee satisfaction and improve public sector productivity.

Despite record levels of spending on public services under Labour, all the targets, meddling and managerial oversight, the Government’s own figures show that public sector productivity has not risen, but actually fallen by over three percent since 1997. By contrast, private sector productivity has grown by around 1.5 per cent on average every year in the last ten years.

This Conservative proposal is potentially the most significant shift in power from the state to working people since the sale of council houses in the 1980s, which gave millions of people across Britain greater freedom, security and control over their lives.

Conservatives will:

o Create a powerful new right to become your own boss. Staff in the vast majority of front-line public service functions will be able to bid to transfer to independence by creating a co-operative enterprise – there are already legally-recognised organisational forms they can simply adopt ‘off the shelf’;

o Enable shared ownership. Staff in the new co-operative would be genuine owners of the enterprise. Like employees in co-owned businesses, they would all be able to benefit from its financial success and could vote on how things are run;

o Create the freedom to innovate. They would simply be contracted by a relevant government department to deliver the desired outcomes – no more bureaucratic government process targets dictating how to achieve them;

o Allow staff co-ops to bring in the best expertise. To help overcome the barriers to rapid progress that co-ops can experience, they will be able to go into joint-venture with outside organisations. Partners could be offered a share of the revenues in exchange for management and operational expertise;

o Give staff co-ops the freedom to grow. Once successful, staff co-ops will be able to bid for other areas of government activity, or merge with other co-ops if they wish;

o Ban profiteering. While staff will fully own their new organisation, they will not be able to sell off any of the state’s assets they continue to use, like land and buildings. And because we expect them to make big efficiencies and improvements to services, their contracts will ensure any big surpluses they make will be shared with the taxpayer.

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