Saturday, 7 February 2009

Ideas wanted!

Charlbury is looking particular wonderful today , but then you probably saw that ! Snow engulfed Charlbury appeared on the the BBC main news last night ; our beautiful Church and Playing fields looking charming in the deep snow , and the shelves of the local Co-op empty as supplies not delivered!. And of course the Nation will have been aghast at the news that the Royal British Legion Coffee Morning had been cancelled. No cake for Bubb.

The sunrise over the cemetery as I took Hound for the early morning ablution run was fantastic . And Hound loved romping in the virgin snow, apparently unfazed by the cold of the snow ,unlike her chilled owner.

The papers have got through though and I read another great article by Polly Toynbee on the need for the Government to get a grip on the bonus culture. Is it not shameful that in the next few weeks the financial industry will pay itself £3.6bl in bonuses . This staggering arrogance should be stopped . Obama is acting in the States . Time for our Government to act? Culture change is needed. As Polly says,

" New non exec directors don't include sharp eyed lower paid academics or heads of Oxfam, the research councils or other experienced institutions outside the Square Mile. You get no culture change from people who think earning a couple of million is as normal as tax avoidance. "

Governance reform for the City is long overdue . But there is a lesson for charities too . What about our governance ? Is that as good as it should be? I mentioned Suzi Leather's critique of charities not having complaints procedures ( yesterday blog ). But is that in part due to the poor governance of many charities ? We have a single only form of governance in our sector . Unpaid volunteer trustees . This is a system ideal for the majority of charities . But it is not always ideal for the larger organisations . These should be able to introduce new forms of governance ; public sector type boards and paid trustees for example. There is a near Stalinist approach to change here . Charities that want to pay trustees find it hard to get Charity Commission approval .My members who have tried to get a change to the governance form have found that the Charity Commission can be difficult . So there is a need for the Commission to take a lighter touch to change . If they want to see charities more responsive and alive to innovation then those that want to change should be helped and advised to do so. So over to you Suzi to look at that .

ACEVO has now been working closely with the DWP on employment and welfare reform . Our task force report launched Wednesday has been widely welcomed. As a follow up the Secretary of State , James Purnell , has asked me to produce for him an informal report looking at ideas for how our sector can support the important work DWP must now do in recession . Its a case of me having to put " money where mouth is " so to speak . I have written and spoken widely about how we can be at the forefront of job creation and meaningful full time volunteering . So James Purnell now wants me to tell him how this might be realised . And he wants my informal ideas by mid February . I have committed to giving him this report in 2 weeks .

So ideas please . There is a real level of inventiveness in the sector. If you are reading this and you think of points that I can make or proposals for how our sector can step up to the mark let me know.

And we now await the launch of the recession action plan . It will be soon , maybe even Monday or Tuesday .I have written a last minute plea from ACEVO to the Prime Minister for the Government to come up with a bold plan that also includes new money for the sector .Others in the sector have done likewise. We have followed the lead set by Stuart at ncvo . I am hopeful. The Government are alive to the need to support our sector as well as how it can be used to lead the economy and society through recession . Public service reform will gather pace , as Liam Byrne MP , the Cabinet Office Minister has promised . So there are strong opportunities for the sector to be at the forefront and show leadership . I await the Plan eagerly.


Anonymous said...

Use your local contacts to provide enterprise education and to inculcate optimism, aspiration and ambition. Develop community based forms of social capital that can provide local support to local entrepreneurs - not just technical advice about business planning etc but real emotional and psychological support designed to help people build their self confidence and beleif, to develop an internal locus of control, a recognition that self-help is the way forward - supported by local people.

Define enterprise widely to allow a demand for strategic services to be established.

Do not invest in more buildings! for more information. said...

Hi Stephen,

Here's an idea for you - the Community Allowance. Check out:

The Community Allowance is a transitional supported employment programme that would create new jobs and support the long-term unemployed to take the first steps to get back to work. The Community Allowance would enable community organisations to pay local unemployed people to do part time, sessional or short-term work that strengthens their community. The unemployed person would be able to keep their earnings on top of benefits, which would be capped at £4,469 or the equivalent of up to 15 hours a week on the minimum wage.

The Community Allowance will unleash a wide range of part-time and sessional job opportunities, not viable under the current benefits system. We have estimated that a minimum of 29,000 new jobs could be created if the Community Allowance was launched across the UK. Alongside providing new jobs, integrated with wraparound training and support, the Community Allowance creates a win-win for poor neighbourhoods and the unemployed, creating a virtuous cycle of renewal to help ensure the scars of the last recession are not deepened during this one.

If you'd like to talk about it further then do get in touch.

Aaron Barbour
Community Links

Sally Reynolds said...

Measures specific to Social Firms, and Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) are necessary particularly as the mainstream job market shrinks daily and individuals who were already distanced from the labour market because of their disability or disadvantage are finding that they are pushed even further back because of the significant numbers of new redundancies in this recession. Job creation and intermediate labour markets (ILMs) play a vital role, because the current situation is likely to get worse and recovery will take several years.

- any ILM scheme which is paid by a commissioner and the Social Firm or WISE is being reimbursed for their support and management time of individuals, should be extended to a minimum of 12 months. We have a member Social Firm in the North West (CREATE) that employs ex-offenders on their way out of prison for 3 months on this basis, with a view to finding them a job in the mainstream labour market after this period. The individuals get paid a national minimum wage salary and the Social Firm gets paid £100 per week per individual for supporting that individual for 3 months. On moving them onto a paid job the Social Firm then receives a further £500. This scheme is funded through what appears to be a mixture of City Employment Strategy, Working Neighbourhood Fund and European Social Fund in Speke, Liverpool. 4 months ago CREATE anticipated that with the recession looming they would have difficulty finding individual ex-offenders jobs in the open market to move onto. This would mean a decrease in funding for the Social Firm (of £500 per person per job outcome) and worse, the individuals would have to leave CREATE with no job to go to because funding for the ILM only lasts for 3 months. That fear is now being realised and none of the ex-offenders at CREATE are able to get jobs beyond the 3 months because the vacancies no longer exist. (Securing employment for this client group has always been difficult; it’s proving impossible now).If CREATE could to extend the ILM contract to 12 months , it would help enormously.

Social Firms UK is also running an ILM scheme (called Transitional Employment Placement) in partnership with Remploy and 6 Social Firms. Under this scheme individual salaries and support costs are paid by Remploy to the Social Firm for hosting and supporting disabled individuals for up to 12 months as part of their progression to mainstream job placement. We are halfway through this scheme but we anticipate that it’s going to be difficult if not impossible in 6 months for Remploy to find the placements they need with mainstream employers for these individuals. The scheme could be rolled-out, however, if relevant government departments could recognise its value in today’s climate. It costs the same as the CREATE programme does currently, so would require a salary at national minimum wage (approx. £11k), employers oncosts (est. £1100) and payment to the Social Firms (or WISE) of £100 per week (£5,200 pa) for support costs. If the WISE sector and Social Firms were to combine capacity on this scheme, then potentially thousands of individuals could be in employment rather than remaining workless throughout this economic recession and reducing even further their chances of employment when the economy recovers.

There is also scope for permanent employment, however, and we at Social Firms UK know that it is critical to recognise the ongoing support cost element of creating employment for individuals who would otherwise not be in work. While we estimate this cost to be along the lines of the £100 per week that we and CREATE have calculated with a unit cost methodology, we do not expect to have this amount fully met through government sources. We do believe, however, that a contribution of £3,500 per disabled or severely disadvantaged employee, would:
- open up more permanent paid employment opportunities for severely disadvantaged individuals within the Social Firm business;
- strengthen the businesses and provide much needed income for costs which are currently only met through sale of products and services (resulting in difficulties creating financial reserves etc.):
- provide an added incentive for new Social Firm start up which isn’t there currently (as it’s been phrased previously: ‘the sums simply don’t add up because of the support cost element which isn’t funded from anywhere except the business’):
- be more cost effective than if that person remained out of work.

Social Firms UK are partners in the CREATE Consortium that’s lobbying for the Community Allowance, as per the last post.

We would like to see the DWP take a longer term view with its strategy; that is absolutely necessary in order to make progress with the many individuals who have already been out of work for a number of years and who, right now, are being pushed even further back from the labour market. We want DWP to follow the example of other European ministries of labour and invest in JOB CREATION alongside its existing job placement strategy, and the Social Firm business model is the medium to do this. The government needs to be pro-active rather than reactive and, whilst £10m into volunteering is very worthy, it is actually paid jobs that people need right now and we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss further how this can be achieved.
Sally Reynolds, CEO, Social Firms UK

Sally Reynolds said... forgot to say that James P needs to sort out the Working Neighbourhoods Fund situation. The new merged fund is in danger of not tackling worklessness through enterprise because of the lack of accountability with this programme on Local Authorities through CLG. It takes time to start and build enterprise and the timeframe also does not allow for that so the easier 'do what we've always done' approach is probably what'll happen.

Rob Greenland said...

Not an idea as such - but a suggestion - I've got concerns about how the Prime Provider way of doing things might have an effect on third sector orgs who are wanting to get involved in this market. Smaller niche players (often third sector orgs) can get pushed aside if this kind of approach isn't managed well. There's more here: