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Our mutual friends have NOT lost the plot…

12th November 2013

Last week, (Saturday 9th November) The Independent posted an article entitled ‘Our mutual friends have lost the plot…’ which discussed the impact of the Co-operative Bank on the mutual sector.

In response to this article, Lawrence Christensen, Marketing Director at benenden health said, “Julian Knight appeared nervous to write the words ‘the mutual concept is all but dead in this country’ and we were left wishing he had held off a little longer.

“Here’s hoping that we can concisely put forward the case for mutuals still being of huge relevance in a UK economy that is only just starting to stand up again.

“Our first point to address is the use of the word ‘mutual’ in relation to the Co-operative Bank. Whilst Julian is right to question the management of that particular brand, he is wrong to class it as a mutual.

“Brands such as benenden health may often put themselves in the ‘mutuals and co-operatives’ sector, but there is still a significant difference between the two forms both in relation to the way that capital is formed and the way that members are involved in the running of the organisation.

“On to mutuals themselves. Whilst Julian focuses very much on the banking sector, it would be disappointing to dismiss the mutual concept based on the performance of two major banking brands.

“The Association of Financial Mutuals – which Benenden Health is a member of - comprises 53 member companies from the UK who collectively look after the savings, protection and healthcare needs of 20 million customers and manage assets of £100 billion. Benenden Health itself has a membership of around 900,000 across the UK and an income of over £70million.

“And finally, we must not forget public service mutuals, where the Government is very much supportive of mutual organisations helping to deliver public services with cost-effectiveness and good quality customer services at their heart.

“This is a brief and concise argument to demonstrate that mutuals are beginning to become just as relevant as they were in their early 20th century heyday – so let’s hold off losing our faith just yet.”

Read Julian Knight’s full article.

 

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