Conservative West Midlands mayoral candidate Andy Street has promised to run public services like he ran John Lewis.
Mr Street said he would use the mayoral office to promote co-operatives, mutuals and social enterprises to run key public services like transport, mental health and social care.
Mr Street said: “We need a bold new approach. We all know the case of ‘the council will sort it’ isn’t going to be enough.
“This is why I want to use my knowledge of mutuals to secure funding and deliver a new wave of mutuals and social enterprises to tackle the issues we face.”
He has proposed a mutual back-to-work provider to work on his youth employment initiative and social care co-operatives run by staff and the elderly service users.
“As managing director of John Lewis, I saw how mutuals can drive higher commitment from employees, deliver greater service and share rewards with employees.
“There are some fantastic mutual and credit unions already in the West Midlands, for example the John Taylor Hospice in Erdington and the CitySave Credit Union.
He said the third sector, charities and not-for-profit enterprises, are also doing great work.
“I have seen first-hand the brilliant work Steps to Work in Walsall does in helping people back into work, care leavers and ex-offenders making and selling treats at Miss Macaroon, and amazing support for the homeless and rough sleepers by charity organisations like St Basil’s and Langar Aid.
“With the mayor’s clout and my experience leading Britain’s biggest co-operative, we can spread this brilliant idea.”
Nadra Ahmed, chairwoman of the National Care Association, described Mr Street’s proposal as “something worth looking at”.
“We all know that the sector has recruitment and retention issues as well as a very significant funding shortfall,” she said. “Any solution that would help those kinds of problems would certainly be worth examining.”