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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Pensions meet broadband - mutual benefits

Just been reading Francis Maude's statements on procurement, IT, government etc which led to the discovery of the launch of the Mutuals Information Service by the Cabinet Office yesterday. In the middle of the CW article is a reference to MyCSP - My Civil Service Pension (lucky buggers even getting a pension). MyCSP is a mutual handling, obviously, pensions so let's join the dots to broadband....

This blog post can be read at

Now, as with all things in #ThatLondon Borough of Westminster, it appears one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. But, we're used to that....

The Cabinet Office is pushing hard for the involvement of SMEs in IT procurement. Sadly, this message didn't appear to make it down the road to BDUK, who specifically excluded SMEs of any size (in fact, most companies) in the procurement. But, to give them their due, are now rapidly trying to make up for lost ground by chucking £20M at the problem and taking it to the extreme by expecting communities to become social ventureprises and expecting parishes etc to move into a world dealing with the sharks that are telcos and the throwing knives that are gap-funding grants.

We have already begun to investigate #RCBF through this blog, and it seems from today's postbag and retweets that we are not alone in our concerns.

Anyhow, onto the positive. In that article, we find reference to MyCSP which is a mutual set up and owned by three parties - the staff (read: community), the government, and a private sector company. It manages 15 million pensions, which is not far different from the 20 million households in UK of which approx 70% at present want a decent broadband connection. The government plans to roll out more of such mutual and innovative structures so here is a little suggestion.

Read this quote from Francis Maude and let's replace the word 'employees'.....

Too often there’s been a binary choice between the Government providing a service itself, or outsourcing it to the private sector. These choices have historically been driven by a belief that services have to be controlled centrally – with a one size fits all approach that has left little room for innovation.

“We are looking for more innovative ways to structure services. We know that COMMUNITIES [employees] who have a stake in their business, or take ownership of it completely, have more power and motivation to improve the service they run. They can also benefit from partnerships with private or voluntary sector organisations which can bring in capital and expertise.

“For the private sector, which can no longer expect the generous margins of the past, tapping the talent of COMMUNITIES [frontline staff] to improve efficiency will be a priority. The state too can keep a stake so that taxpayers benefit from the rising value of an improved service...."

Each of the five #RCBF models could be run in this mutually beneficial way. And should be. So should all broadband projects. It is time for every Council, civil servant, company, community and consumer to endeavour to grasp new ways of working. The old ones clearly did not and do not benefit all, whereas a mutual can. Especially when it is a mutual with stakeholders from all parties represented on the Board, as Directors etc, not a Smoke & Mirrors Mutual.

This approach would put paid to all the greed currently rife in broadband, and which is about to explode yet further as consultants, telecom laywers, private companies etc seek to slaughter the cash cow that this tranche of broadband monies will end up supporting (rather than actual delivery) if we are not careful.

It's not just about money though. (Although you'd think it was all about money the way some people unceasingly mouth off about it). What it would be nice to see is some goodwill, collaboration and co-operation for the common good and mutual benefit. Especially at this time of year.

For more info on Mutuals, the website was launched yesterday

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