So-called ‘John Lewis-style mutuals’ are (depending on your point of view) the future of the public sector or a euphemism for privatisation. However, the expression may have some unexpected implications for the government.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude launched a competition today to find a commercial partner for the government’s Behavioural Insights Team – or Nudge Unit. He described the move as ‘employee-led’ as the 12 Nudge staff have led the process and will continue to run the organisation. Reports suggest that private companies will be invited to bid for a stake of up to 50 per cent in the new business in return for the government guaranteeing long-term contracts. The staff and the government would also own stakes.
The Nudge Unit is claimed to have already saved the government millions of pounds although it not quite clear how. It hit the headlines for different reasons today when it was revealed to be behind bogus psychometric tests for jobseekers. It is best known to me as the unit that the DCLG failed to consult when it introduced the New Homes Bonus in a bid to change the behaviour of local authorities and I wonder what, if anything, it had to say about the behavioural impacts of welfare reform that the DWP found impossible to quantity.
As Crisis launches a campaign against ‘unworkable and irresponsible’ cuts in housing benefit for the under-25s, there is another scary reminder today of the bleak prospects for the next spending review.
Fiscal Fallout, a report from the Social Market Foundation and Royal Society of the Arts, concludes that the flat-lining economy will make the structural deficit significantly higher than forecast in the Budget in March.
Read the rest of this post on Inside Edge, my blog for Inside Housing