Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Oxo Tower and more recession gloom

Its a 2 dinner evening , or rather would be if I were that gready! It was the Office of the Third Sector's strategic partners meeting. Held at Coin St ( which is rapidly becoming venue of choice for the third sector ) ; there is a reception afterwards , at the Oxo Tower and then dinner . The Oxo Tower is actually run by Coin St as part of their social enterprise so one can wine and dine in the knowledge that profits return to the local community . As it should be at this time of economic crisis.

It is my first official meeting with the new Third Sector Minister , Kevin Brennan , so i wish him well before he disappears to vote . it is Cabinet Office questions tomorrow . We have done a briefing for MPs on the crisis that looms for charities and so hope this come up . We have done major press briefings on this and we are asking government to set up an emergency fund of £500ml to support charities that face both rising demand at a time of recession , as well as falling income . we also want to see a voice for the sector on the new National Economic Council .

It is hard to get our voice heard amongst the insistent demands of the Bankers. I was glad to see a good piece in the Times that highlights the Charities Aid Foundation and acevo survey . It was good also to see a supportive comment from Stuart Ethrington of ncvo on the need for the third sector voice to be heard . less delighted to see someone denouncing our calls as a " gimmick " . Why does the sector find it so hard to come together at a time of serious trouble for us all ? Somehow I doubt if anyone in the business sector denounced the recent £12billion package for small business as a " gimmick " . But strong signals from members that this is important for them and we should keep going in arguing for support . It is the CEOs of smaller organisations , with weaker finances and small reserves that will be particularly worried . We owe it to them to do all we can in our various leadership positions to support them .

This will be a long term campaign . We are already planning how we can push further . We must get action .

The evening at the Oxo Tower is fun and I get a chance to chat to various of the sector luminaries ; Ben Kerrnigan from ncvo , Julia Neuberger , Jill Pitkeathly, Bert Massie , the Fundraising Institute , a number of my members like the great Cambridge House and UnLtd.

I talk to Lindsay of the Fundraising Institute on gift aid .With falling donations it is a scandal that much of the potential tax back that charities should be getting goes unclaimed . Lindsay points out that most higher rate taxpayers do not claim back their charity donations . Why do they get this back anyway . A simple reform would be to ensure all the tax is returned to the charity , We agree we need a further push together on this and we will meet to discuss further.

I eat the first course , but as I have Australian friends staying back at the flat I go back for the rest of dinner !

And news today of changes on the Tory front bench . Greg Clark is moving on to shadow Ed and we have a new shadow Third Sector Minister , Nick Hurd , son of Douglas who was the Charlbury MP before Cameron . I'm looking forward to meeting him ; Classics from Exeter ,Oxford I note but this must not be held against him .

And talking of Oxford, my nephew Alexander has finished his exams for a Fellowship at All Souls . This is such a prestigious post there is huge demand and so fingers are crossed . The exams are famous . The question in one paper is always just one word on which you can write what you like . This year it was " novelty " . The question in another paper was " Does the moral nature of an orgy change if the participants are wearing Nazi uniform? ".


Damian said...

Surely the Third Sector has the edge in this situation and many lessons can be learnt by expanding our ethos of greater collaboration and sharing skills and resources.

The way I see it is that by being 'sector specific' many organisations, whether SME,s, Charity, Private or Social Enterprise are limiting their options to adapt to crisis and therefore making themselves more vulnerable.

I know this will a difficult time for many organisations but I also have no doubt that the passion, imagination and determination of our sector will bouy us through this storm.

Take care and keep on fighting for those much needed reforms and we'll keep on pushing to deliver the services that will strenghen your hand.


Anonymous said...

Im glad to see that you are now publicly making waves on the effect of an economic downturn on the Third Sector.

May I recommend a short article I wrote in June that circulated your office on the potential effects of economic slide on the Third Sector?


P.s, your blogging style is developing rather nicely. Please keep it up, as the battle will be intensifying even more in the next couple of months.


Jonathan McHugh

Sir Stephen Bubb said...

thsnks Damian , nice comment and appreciated .i agree our passion , imagination and determination will be at the forefront.