Tuesday 1 July 2008

Boris and Jack

Boris Johnston . Love him or hate him ? I heard him speak tonight and was impressed . I was at City Hall for a celebration with the Jack Petchey Foundation . They have just given away £50 million and Boris was there to cut a rather ostentatious cake in the shape of the words £50m alongside Jack Petchey . A range of acevo members there as well ;including my Chair John Low , David Emerson of the Association of Charitable Foundations ( in a splendid Duchamp tie; regret ably I had removed mine in the fierce heat ) and the charismatic Nick Wilkie of London Youth .And of course Andrew Billington who is the CEO of the Foundation and a long time acevo member.

The view from what is quaintly called the London sitting room , in other words the top of the City Hall , is marvellous . You get a complete 360 degree panorama. Well done Ken, I thought seditiously. And my niece Miranda came with me on her work experience week . I had introduced her to Jack Straw earlier . He had wanted to know what her career plans were . In the absence of a convincing answer from Miranda I suggested " Third Sector Leader " . It will soon be the only career of note !

I had come to the celebration from the Ministry of Justice where I had led a delegation of my members who work in offender management services to see Jack Straw , and his Minister of State David Hanson . Acevo gave very strong backing to the passage of the recent Offender Management Bill which we thought would open up access to more provision of client facing services to the third sector. We have been sorely disappointed . The forces of conservatism in the system have really derailed progress. What in particular has got up our nose was the covert way in which the 10% target was quietly dropped ( or was it ? ) . This was a target set 2 years ago to ensure that provision of service delivery started to move out of the hands of the state into the third and private sectors . They had got as far as achieving 5.5% but then rather than push for more officials decided to drop the target in place of a highly ill defined " best value " regime . But it became clear there is confusion about whether they had indeed dropped it at all . Or what best value might be and who decides that !

I make a very strong plea to Jack to keep the target as this may be the only way to force change . It may well be compatible with changes to commissioning along a best value line but without the stick of the target I just don't believe the forces of reaction that seem entrenched in the probation and prison service will be vanquished.

I say that though acevo will always strongly criticise back sliding and incorrect decisions by Government as a CEO body our job is to work with them to put things right. So I suggest that we establish a joint task force between acevo , on behalf of the sector , and the MoJ to look at the barriers against us in service provision, what we can do to remove them and whether to keep the Target and how that might work with a best value regime. Jack says they will think about this and discuss internally , but he promised he would let me know within 24 hours .We have quite a discussion on the target issue and I suspect Jack does see the arguments on this although they seem keen on a best value approach I wonder if the 2 are incompatible. That does sound hopeful . Members working in rehabilitation , in mental health and jobs and addiction agencies have so much to offer . One of my members says to Jack they had such high hopes of change and they have just so much to offer it is so frustrating we can't move forward . It is so clear we have a joint agenda here . Jack agrees.

I also suggest that there is a role here for Futurebuilders . Having talked to Jonathan,my FBE Chief Executive, we agree the take up of investment from offender management charities is abysmally low and we should work with the MoJ to drive up applications and I offer that we will look at how to invest to support this.If they establish a task force FBE will get involved to see what support could be offered.

So we shall see .

Our joint agenda is tackling crime and the causes of crime. Locking people up is not the answer in the long term . The John Smith Institute reckons that on current projections the prison population will rise from 65,000 to 93,000 in 2010. The damage is well rehearsed

* a third of prisoners lose their house whilst in prison.
* two - thirds lose their job
* two-fifths lose contact with their family

And which organisations are best placed to tackle these multiple issues ?

My dinner date from SERCO blows me out so I get home nice and early and sit in the window with a cup of tea listening to the Archers. A good day . A blow struck for the sector and my members.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How are we supposed to take you seriously when you don't pay enough attention to detail to get the Mayor's name right?