Wednesday, 29 October 2008

pushing the case and Hazel at the Bank

A reasonably productive meeting with Government on the Icelandic charity losses. We certainly made an impressive team in our presentation ; Stuart Etherington, John Low and myself worked well together in pushing our case for support . It is now down to Government to come up with a scheme to support charities who have losses. We have proposed a loan scheme so that charities can access money now whilst the administrator works on the wind up and payments back to creditors.I relate to the HMT official that the last big bank collapse , that of BCCI ,took 20 years to finally wind up . We have not got a 20 year window of waiting . Stuart makes a presentation on the losses and John shows great mastery of the brief in the discussions . Kevin is listening and I think understands the real problems these charities face.

The HMT are obviously worried about precedent . So if they agree a scheme for charities will they have to offer the same terms to local councils? i think the precedent argument is over-rated . After all , if the Minister was to stand up and tell the Commons that they are refusing to support the Naoimi Hospice who face a cash crisis because they would then also have to help Kent County Council this would not go down well with the public. After all , Harriet Harman , on Any Questions a few weeks back said the Government would act to support charities like Naoimi Hospice.

I feel sure the Government will want to come up with a scheme . We hope we will not be disappointed. But we stressed very strongly that time is of the essence. We expect to hear back from Kevin Brennan soon . I am sure that our new Minister is up for the challenge of delivering for the sector.

In fact I had 2 meetings with the Third sector Minister yesterday . The first was wearing my Chair of Futurebuilders hat . We had a briefing session to talk about our current performance and our future plans . That was very productive ; I had 2 of my Board colleagues with me ; Kevin Carey ( third sector activist and Vice Chair of RNIB ) and Rupert Evenett ( former investment banker and current Chair of BTCV )as well as our dynamic Chief executive Johnathan Lewis. We spent some time talking about how we can help shape the market for service delivery by the third sector by supporting organisations to scale up , to form consortia and to form alliances and mergers. we will be putting more of our investment money behind this . Our tender fund , which supports organisations wanting to increase capacity to bid , has been hugely successful . And we made the point that in a recession we want to help third sector bodies to re plan their strategies and to consider new opportunities in service delivery .

Futurebuilders is moving from being a largely reactive organisation that merely receives applications , to a progressive investor , seeking out opportunities to invest and helping shape the market and support greater capacity in TSOs to deliver. It was a good meeting . I said to Kevin that Futurebuilders is a great success story for the Government . We need to build on that by pressing ahead with establishing a Social Investment Bank so that more capital can be deployed in the sector. i warned Kevin that the banks were seeking to wriggle out of their commitment that they will cough up £400ml in unclaimed assets and said that the real estimate on what is in dormant accounts may actually be nearer to £2 billion . So the banks got a good deal . They should not be allowed to renege . It's our money , not theirs.

But obviously HMT will be able to use its new power over our Banks to insist they come up with the goods. Won't they?

The rest of the evening was a pleasant dinner to say thank you to Fred Worth , one of the trustees of the Adventure Capital Fund ,who played a crucial role in getting and setting up Futurebuilders in the early stages . He is the author of a comprehensive and thorough Governance handbook for FBE. It rounded off a rather testing day with aplomb . Arrived home exhausted and determined not to go to the breakfast round tablein my diary for Wednesday morning but have a lie in . Every good boy deserves a treat , as they say ( and that applies to Chief Executives too ) . I walked 2 tube stops on the way in as well . The autumnal leaves on the trees in Kennington Park look magnificent. I love Kennnigton . And remember that this is the site of the biggest gathering of Chartists demanding the vote for the people in 1848. They then marched on Westminster to hand in their mass petition demanding the vote for males over 21 , annual parliaments and salaried MPs. Denounced at the time as lunatic or revolutionary ! Kennnigton has always been the site for popular and democratic demonstrations .I am thinking of this as I ponder the meetings of yesterday ; a good place to rally to demand action for charities if the Government fail to give us what we need . But that won't be needed I'm sure.

Lunch at the Commonwealth Club to determine the Charity Champion Awards . This is an award scheme which finds charity champions amongst Parliamentarians.A group of distinguished panelists meets to detrmine a shortlist of 3 which then goes to a vote amongst the Paliamnetarians themsleves. So Esther Ranzen , Brian Rix , Alf Morris and Julia Neuberger debate the merite os a range of people over the sea bream . Me and Stuart are the voice of the sector. Our voice is heard! Tempting to reveal titbits of the names but No , that would be improper.

Tonight was our second in the series of ACEVO Lectures on 21st century public services. It was held in the splendid offices of the Bank of America over in Canary Wharf. Space , marble and ART . No sign of the credit crunch here then. Our lecturer was the feisty and energetic Hazel Blears MP , one of my favourite Cabinet Ministers . It was a good Lecture . She directly addressed the challenge of recession for the sector. She has a strong commitment to the sector and understands the power of communities to make lasting change . She also used the lecture to announce the guidance for the new 7.5ml empowerment fund. She talked about how we need to support the sector but how this is also a time for the sector to show the determination and the innovation for which we are renowned. She made a strong point about how this is the time the sector can be arguing for shaping new services and changes in the way the state delivers at a time of recession . She argued at this time state bodies may be moor prepared to contemplate change ;it is a good point. It is taken up by various members in the audience . Indeed the quality of the comments and issues raised by the audience make me proud that the sector is showing off its best side. Hazel also makes the point that the sector itself must rise to its own challenges ; becoming more professional in its approach . We are at our best when we rise to a crisis by finding new solutions , by providing flexible , responsive and rooted services. It is a truly excellent speech by a real champion for our sector. It was a good opportunity for me to ram home the messages I have been getting from members about the need for support for us to work with Government tackling the economic and social fallout from recession .


Anonymous said...

Why does no one ever comment on Bubb's Blog?

It seems a shame that such erudite and thought provoking commentary seems to elicit such little interest.

Surely a case of pearls before swine?

Sir Stephen Bubb said...

You are right Stan . i would welcome more comments......

Anonymous said...

Possibly because most people are too busy vomiting over the excessively smug tone of this blog.