Thursday, 12 November 2009

Long term funding, active Government and Liam Byrne.

OK OK , no more on the City culture creeping into our unions' top salaries ..... I have said enough. For the time being.

I was in the pound shop in Brixton not long ago and got hold of two rather good books: showing political balance I bought Cherie Blair's autobiography and "Cameron on Cameron". What strange reading habits I have!

There was an interesting interview by Cameron and it is worth reproducing. He said:

"We need to give the voluntary sector longer-term contracts, we need to trust them more, we need to be prepared to say we’re going to give you larger bits of work, and we’re going to give you the money to do it. And we’re going to take some risks. If you fail in business it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t start again and succeed. The idea may have been good, and so next time we attempt it we’re going to do it in a different way. We should encourage people to take risks, and acknowledge that sometimes that might mean failure. In the public sector, or in crime prevention, or solving problems like drug abuse or whatever, we don’t encourage entrepreneurialism, and we should. "

Spent last night at an Institute of Government Lecture by the excellent Rt Hon Liam Byrne, MP, Chief Secretary to HMT. He was speaking of the Smarter State; active Government in the 21st century. An interesting counterpoint to the Cameron speech of last night. Liam is always so dapper and dynamic. A great speaking style somewhat reminiscent of one Tony Blair! A great grasp of facts and historical sweep.

He was arguing that there has been a huge reform in public services but the next decade ahead needs to change shape, size and scale of the state. We should not be depressed about the decade ahead. How do we change the means of delivering services to deliver the end of a fairer society . How do we draw on civil society? Give people more power. More choice.

We must ensure people power drives reformed services he argued . Shift power from Whitehall by developing a rights approach.

There is a new force in civil society. And it is a positive force for change.

Charitable giving is up, and 40% more staff employed. It is stronger. He attacked the approach of Cameron in his speech last night and over the last 12 years.

I challenged him on outsourcing and what I see as a clear divide between the two Parties on this, with the Tories being much clearer they expect more delivery through the third sector. I also suggested that the Cameron speech deserved more attention in the role that Cameron sees for the State. I have to say he gave me an impressive answer which precised Tory philosophical thinking starting with De Toqueville!!

Good to have a word afterwards on one of my favourite subject, The Social Investment Bank. And a Social impact bond where I think we will see progress soon with a timetable for action.

I agree with Liam that a rights based approach is a strong way of driving reform. It is coupled with the personalisation agenda; and here let me give you prewarning of the launch of the interim report of the ACEVO Personalisation Commission, chaired by Matthew Pike. It is this Monday 16th November at 9.30am. Will be interesting. Thought provoking. Incisive. And hopefully starting a debate in our sector on how we prepare for this revolution in delivering services.


Martin Brookes said...


I was a little startled so checked Liam Byrne's speech and he did indeed say "Charitable giving is up dramatically". It has recovered from the doldrums of the late 1990s, but it is low as a share of GDP or household income, has not risen over a longer period on these measures, and fewer people are giving. We may not be far away from less than half the population donating to charities. I am not sure that is such a healthy situation as Liam Byrne suggests.


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