Labour's election manifesto is likely to give a major boost to the mutual life office and building society sector with a general commitment to mutuality.
Labour MP and chairman of the all-party building societies and financial mutuals group Andrew Love says he has been privately assured by senior Labour party officials that there will be a statement about mutuality in the election manifesto.
Building societies have reacted with surprise, saying it contradicts the previous stance of Treasury officials that no more action was forthcoming to help level the playing field for mutuals.
Love says any statement will be generally worded and will not spell out any course of action but he expects the Government to revisit the issue if it wins a second term.
He wants to see a root and branch review looking at the way mutuals are governed and ways to enhance the democracy of societies without leaving them under threat from carpetbaggers.
Love says: “There are signs the Government may be starting to address the fact that unless something is done, the UK's mutual sector could quickly disappear. Debate on our manifesto has highlighted the need to offer broad support for mutuals, including looking into the issues that have led to conversions.”
Yorkshire Building Society corporate affairs manager David Holmes says: “If there is something in the manifesto then we are in favour of it but we fully realise we have to justify our position to our own members without looking to the Government for help.”
l Election countdown, p13