How Asset-Based Areas stimulate mutualism and use localism

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Asset-Based Areas see social care as a process of supporting people to support themselves and those around them, not a service system. Mutuality is central to its success. Asset-Based Areas use the Localism Act and mutuals to help people and communities have an equal say in commissioning and co-producing outcomes as well as creating strong, inclusive communities.

More than just staff controlled

Some mutuals provide direct services and supports, others generate profits to benefit their community. They take many different forms such as establish cooperatives and Community Interest Companies. All mutuals ensure staff have a say in how their organisations run. Asset-Based Areas go further - promoting mutuals in which people who use services and local communities as well as staff have a direct say and benefit.

  • Cartefi Cymru (opens new window)provides community support to people with learning disabilities and others throughout Wales and promotes cooperative development. Originally a conventional business, it is now a cooperative in which staff, people who use services and community supporters have a say.

Exploit the freedoms of the Localism Act

The Localism Act frees up councils to be creative and entrepreneurial, acting directly in the interest of their communities without the worry of exceeding their legal powers. Asset-Based Areas use this to stimulate the development of new mutuals. They also support communities to use the community right to buy. Local community assets such as pubs and shops provide employment and opportunities that contribute and are a focus for community life. They are especially important to people who have limited mobility or lack access to personal or affordable public transport. The community right to bid gives local communities the extra time they need to get organised to purchase community assets when they come up for sale.

Getting things going in your area

Try this:

  • Actively support communities to use the ‘right to bid’ – develop your own, or where it exists, work with existing local authority wide support to make people who use services and communities aware of what they can do and provide them with the support they require.
  • Directly promote inclusive mutuals – by enabling conventional service suppliers to become mutuals, working with existing mutuals to widen their membership to people who use services and their local communities as well as stimulating new inclusive mutuals.
  • Create a supportive infrastructure for mutuals – by ensuring that mutuals are a mainstream part of the local authority wide economic development strategy, supporting local user led and other organisations that enable the development of mutuals and linking with national development bodies such as Co-operatives UK,

Links to all of the above innovations and more can be found in:

Alex Fox. (2017)  The Asset-Based Area (opens new window). Online: Coalition for Collaborative Care, Shared Lives Plus, and Think Local, Act Personal. 

Richard Field and Clive Miller. (2017) Asset-based commissioning: better outcomes, better value. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University. Available as a free download, in both its full (215 pp) and digested versions (11pp).