Finding the right delivery model

Find the right model to deliver your organisation’s public services

There are several different organisational models used to deliver a range of public services by a variety of organisations – public, private and not-for-profit.

Organisations should investigate whether their community investment programmes would be best delivered by transferring to a mutual model, or by establishing social enterprises.

Your housing association may not want to follow these routes and would prefer to deliver community investment projects directly with specifically recruited teams to focus on a community need or to bring about a particular change. If this is more suitable for you then you may wish to consider the basic principles outline under Deciding your direction.


Mutual organisations are those where the employees own a share in and control an organisation.

This business model is becoming a popular option in delivering public services. Mutuals can be fully owned by the employees, or partially owned as cooperatives or social enterprises.

The Cabinet Office has drawn up some information and has a task force to advise emergent organisations. If you are interested in exploring this option, more information is available on the Cabinet Office Mutuals website or contacting the cabinet office team directly.

Social Enterprise

Social enterprise is not a legal term, it is simply used to describe businesses that exist for a social purpose. By their very nature housing associations are social enterprises in their own right and many also contain other social enterprises within their organisational structures.

You may be interested in establishing a social enterprise to deliver community services or working in partnership with one. Many social enterprises provide services which housing associations use, such as

  • cleaning and clearing empty homes
  • gardening
  • landscaping
  • property guardianship
  • IT
  • training and apprenticeships.

Your housing association could look to procure these contracts from social enterprises in future. Procurement processes which engage with social enterprises are one way of meeting the requirements of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2013.

The Federation has worked with other partners to set up the online Buy Social directory and the Social Enterprise and Housing Hub which features best practice case studies, articles and key resources for housing organisations keen to work with other social enterprises.

Find out more about National Housing Federation activities around social enterprise.