Mutual understanding

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Jake Shepherd

June 22, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at the modern mutual sector and how to support it.

This report by the Social Market Foundation provides a comprehensive overview of the modern mutual sector, exploring its key opportunities and challenges. Mutuals offer significant benefits, including economic benefits such being more resilient than investor-owned firms, and social benefits such as being more in line with shifting public perceptions of business. But the sector also faces some key challenges. Poor access to capital is a key challenge that not only prevents mutuals from growing, but can also lead to ‘demutualisation’. Meanwhile, only 20% of adults understand what ‘mutuality’ is and what it entails. 40% have not heard of it at all. That said, after being told about mutuals and what they do the majority of people (54%) believe that government should do more to help mutuals grow, and that mutuals can make a big difference in society (54%) Where to go from here? Firstly, government should create a new capital instrument for mutuals, allowing them to raise more funds and prevent the threat of demutualisation. Secondly, we recommend that the sector launches an information campaign for mutuals, enhancing brand recognition. Finally, to create a better policy understanding of mutuals, mutual organisations and the government should collaborate on the creation of comprehensive data that monitors UK mutuality.