Friday, 17 October 2008

Global and local; James and my tie

Our Third Global Leaders Forum takes place at RBS Bank London HQ . Somehow appropriate in the middle of a global financial crisis that has serious ramifications for the third sector internationally . We are looking at the lessons to be learnt across borders on how different countries tackle service delivery reform and the use of the Third Sector . It also marks the publication of a new book by acevo on this . the book causes much comment . Prof Murdoch from South bank University seems ecstatic , in a very academic sort of way ,and is promising to get it reviewed in various international journals. the speakers at the Forum are drawn from across the globe to reflect on different experiences of delivery through the sector. It is clear the UK has a strong leadership role in the way the Government is explicitly promoting our sector's role in delivery.

To order the Global Learning Forum publication click here.

I slip out of the conference to head off to the Commons ; tea in the Pugin Room with Nick Hurd , the Tory lead on the third sector. over 3 decades I have met many many MPs ; indifferent or useless , inspiring and visionary , achingly careerist or just plain great . Hurd is in the later category . He is headed for a Tory Cabinet . He is charming with a strong intellect and a real fee Flor our sector. Indeed he tells me he had once considered a career as a charity CEO. He would have been a good one ! He has already the strong distinction of having been one of the main MPs behind the passage of the Sustainable Communities Act. We run through where acevo is on the current crisis and I ask him to do what he can to highlight the problems and the need for Government action . He agrees this is essential . And we talk through his take on the job and how we can support that . He is also doing one of acevo's dinners next week , again with our friends RBS ( hope the Government have not closed down their wine cellar ! )

Back to the Conference where we have a euclid Board meeting to review the spread of our European network .Membership is growing , but its a slow job building the network and the infrastructure. But the idea of a cross Europe network for sector leaders has to be a good one and it will catch on . Already the EU is giving it strong backing.

My Chair John Low and I have to leave our European colleagues as we have the first of the ACEVO lecture series on public services in a 21st century .Held at Schroders so maintaining the international capitalist theme of the day! . James Purnell is our first lecturer . I'm afraid that when I was choosing ties to wear for the day I managed to go for something a little less than than the usual highly stylish . And he notices ; " boring tie" are his first words as I great him in the sumptuous foyer of a great investment is a great contribution . James now clearly knows his brief. He is a master at the detail when he answers questions from members. But what is particularly important is that he announces the introduction of a " Right to Bid " . This is an important further step towards more delivery by third sector organisations. But in my contribution I make the point that with growing unemployment the work of the sector grows and becomes even more important . Yet we face rising costs , rising demand and falling income . That is not a recipe for sustainability. I repeat the message that Government need to act to support the sector.

To order the Lecture Series publication click here.

The recession has been the leitmotif of the week . My team in acevo have been at work on our plans to support members . We will be launching a number of initiatives next week . This is the time when sector CEOs will expect their membership body to get stuck in and argue and cajole Government to act for them . They will also want us to look at what support we can give . But as I say at the Lecture , more opportunity to deliver citizen responsive public services is a chance to buck recessionary trends.

At least our constant bashing away at the issue is getting through . More and more MPs are raising questions and wanting action . We have now been able to make our case with Purnell and Smith as well as our own sector Ministers.I know the Office of the Third sector are working on the problem and a Government response . We are also making contacts in government departments who are also working on departmental responses . The next few months will be testing for us . But in the face of the unfolding crisis for our members we need to redouble our effort . And we will .

For full details of our lecture series on the sector's role in Public Service Reform visit our website here.

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