Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Recession again,.but we will see it through!

Our campaign for support in the recession for our sector continues. Yesterday we sent a Briefing to all MPs on the need for emergency support for the sector to help the victims of recession . This was in advance of the Cabinet Office Questions in the Commons today . It was gratifying to see that a number of MPs used our briefing so there was a question about a voice for the sector on the National Economic Council and the need for financial support . It was Liam Byrne's debut as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He should have used it to announce a package of support , but he didn't . However I suspect we are pushing at an open door and we will carry on this campaign .

We now need to broaden it out across the sector and get the key players engaged . We have alerted our members to the need to tell us the effects for them , whether in the big national charities , or local or community organisations .

Listening to the Today programme the sums of money being banded around are mind boggling . As they point out the package for the Banks is 4 times the annual spend of the entire NHS. . In the meantime our proposal for £500million seems modest . In fact these days anything without a billion after it seems positively modest .

We have an acevo lunch tomorrow with Jacqui Smith , the Home Secretary. i am going to use that as an occasion to push our case for action . And it is ironic that we are having lunch at RBS , our strategic partner in the City !

The other key event for the sector this week was the successful second reading of the Unclaimed Assets Bill . This is a crucial piece of legislation which will ensure that the money that lies around in dormant bank accounts , unclaimed over the years , can be put to use for the benefit of the country , rather than the narrow advantage of the banks. We have been arguing for the establishment of a Social Investment Bank , to use the money as capital for the broad third sector. As a sector we have poor access to capital . Futurebuilders was set up as a way of getting capital into the sector. But even with Futurebuilders , venturesom and the Charity bank the supply of capital is modest in the extreme. yet if we can unlock more supply we could see healthy expansion and a virtuous circle of increased investm,ent and growth .

I have agreed with Sir Ronnie Cohen that Futurebuilders need to work with him and his social investment vehicle to support the Bill and to promote the Social Investment Bank . We will work with others to do this . It would be too easy for Government to pass the Bill and then simply leave it to moulder whilst the Banks avoid taking any action to disgorge the money . Yet at this time the Banks need to ensure they regain the trust of the public. Establishing the Social Investment Bank could be one of the finest achievements of this Government for the sector. Lets ensure they don't bottle out.

And ending the blog I can't but fail to note the rather splendid comment posted by Damian on yeasterday's blog. He spoke of optimism that our sector will see through the bad times because of our passion , imagination and determination . That is , for me , the hallmark of today's modern professional third sector chief executive.

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