Thursday, 5 February 2009

Jobs; ACEVO-DWP Taskforce Launched

We gave birth to our long awaited ACEV0 - DWP taskforce report on the role of the third sector in delivering employment and training yesterday. A conference at RBS with a stellar line up. James Purnell (who commissioned the Task force) is the key note and we end with Kevin Brennan, the Third Sector Minister giving the report the thumbs up from the OTS perspective.

Please click here for the full report

In opening the day I stress how crucial our role is in creating jobs and full time volunteering initiatives. I spoke about how, after the Brixton riots, the Council had worked with the local community and third sector to regenerate against a background of staggering levels of youth unemployment. And the key recommendation of the Report is to establish a Social Investment Bank as soon as possible. A Bank that lends. A Bank, with a capital asset of £250m that can build capacity in our sector and enable us to build a strong base for competition.

I tell James we need that to happen Now. February. He later quips that he knows if he comes to an acevo event he will not knowingly be under asked by Stephen!

David Freud, who was the Vice Chair of the Taskforce, gave a brilliant piece on The Today programme. He spelt out why we need the Bank. He said the sector is like a juggernaut with only two gears. An apt metaphor. We need capacity building to give us five.

A packed room and good attendance from both the sector and private industry. I stress how important partnership working will be - across public, private and third sectors -at a time of recession. James's speech demonstrates a superb mastery of his brief and a real zeal and commitment to what our sector brings to his Department's work. He has an engaging manner and deals with the questions with effortless ease and a sense of humour. Later on I'm able to also thank Leigh Lewis, the Permanent Secretary at DWP, on the support of his officials who are up for a bigger role for us.

Later in the day I receive a call from Radio 4’s iPM team, who are looking at the subject of volunteering. Chris Vallance has had a lot of feeback from those with positive experiences of volunteering on his blog. Click here.

My head of policy, Ralph Michell will be speaking to Eddie Mair on Saturday morning’s iPM show on Radio 4. He will be discussing the valuable role the third sector can play, particularly through volunteering and job creation, in helping tackle unemployment. If you are not planning to be up at 5.45am you may want to listen to it at a more convenient time.

Just click on listen to ipm on the right hand side.

And I cap the day of with the Annual Dinner for the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives. Our sister organisation. Though they have more money. A long chat with the new Chair and CEO of the local government association to talk about better working relations! Though I'm afraid that later I get trapped in a conversation about salt and grit (lack of) and logistics and so drank more than was advisable so I could cope with the crushing boredom of this topic of conversation!

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