Monday 5 May 2008

DWP , brainstorms and graves

Lunch on Thursday at the Reform Club ; with Leigh Lewis , the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions, and Tony Hawkhead , the CEO of Groundwork , a major charity working in regeneration and with huge experience of getting jobs for the most excluded communities . We are talking about how the third sector can play a bigger role in the job market. relationships have been difficult since the row over the Pathways to Work debacle last year. But we need to work more closely together if we are to make a dent in the 3.3 ml people on long term benefit.
We have ideas for this which is why Tony and I are talking to Leigh. He is keen to work with us ; and you somehow know with him that if he is on side then things will move. And i have also been in discussion with James Purnell ; one of the best members of the current Cabinet. he is a fiercely bright , ambitious and smart guy . He is clear on the role of the sector , and determined to follow through the Freud Report. This looks at the much greater use of the third sector and the private sector in delivering services to those who have been out of work for more than a year.
The reform of our public services is an ongoing demand of our sector. Citizen focused services , delivered for people according to their needs not the predetermined objectives of state silos. Its great that acevo has been able one of the leaders for such reform .

then its off to Charlbury . I am having a brainstorm with my Deputy ; Dr Kyle and my Head of Policy Seb Elsworth ; they are both great guys , brains and talent , what more can a CEO ask for ! We spend the day reviewing our plans for the future, dissecting problems , sharing concerns and , in particular , mapping out the way forward. acevo is in a good place ; widely seen as the leading policy voice of the sector and the strongest advocate of a professional sector led by strong Leaders.We have been growing apace. But you can never be complacent as a CEO. Get complacent and you are headed for a fall. So we need to manage our growth . I am lucky to have such good brains around me to plan.
But we do not forget to feed the body as well as the soul . So we are off to the Bull at lunch time for a mouth watering roast leg of local lamb. Its hard to beat a relaxing lunch in an English pub , with good food and a pint of the finest of English bitters...i guess this is what Gordon has in mind when he goes om about Britishness ? Though up in the Cotswolds we take the view that a certain ironic detachment to patriotism is what actually marks out an Englishman.Flagpoles in ones garden , American style , would be regarded with distaste up here . And , in any case , would not get planning permission.

Which brings us to the elections. Poor Ken . A Lambeth boy, and a former Lambeth Councillor ( like me, I was elected to the council for a brief 4 years in Clapham Town ward in 1982 ) . So I was sad to see him go But that's politics...must get Boris to an acevo lunch. One of the lunches we do at RBS where they serve Chassagne Montachet ; he will like that.

And so we remember that we are here for an alloted span and then above ( as the hymn writer has it ) i have finally completed my arrangmeents for my grave . I have paid for my plot in the new Cemetary in Charlbury . The old cemetary is nearly full and they have opened a beautifull plot in a field on a gentle slope in a green lush valley at the edge of the village .iI shall be happy resting here. Though I am not planning to do so for some time yet! Stuart and all my colleagues will be relieved to hear.

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