Thursday 16 September 2010

Nick and Rory, Work and Health

Up early to speak at a report launch at Ippr, that excellent think tank now headed again by the brilliant Nick Pierce; returning from his spell in No 10 have produced a fascinating report "Now it's personal" edited by Clare McNeil ( see Ippr website for details ).

The timing is superb as the battle rages between IDS ( on the side of the Angels) and George Osborne ( representing the forces of darkness) in getting sensible reform of welfare to work. IDS completely understands the need for investment up front to secure the change needed for the future. He has a strong understanding of the role that the third sector can play, whether at local or National level.

The report argues the case for a more localised approach to delivery of welfare to work. It argues for a number of interesting ideas like the Australian Innovation Fund to encourage new approaches or the transitional work schemes of Finland and Denmark where unemployed people take up a job while the postholder is on leave or taking a break etc.

As part of the panel I argued for an approach that blended national and local initiatives. I referenced the Papal Encylical on subsidiarity as it seemed somewhat topical ! This suggests that power should reside at the most appropriate level in society- whether national , regional or local and not to be dogmatic about all local or all national.

I also argued for taking Job Centre Plus out of central State control and making job centres into trusts.

I made a generous offer to ippr to support a research project on that ( Nick thought that excellent if we paid! ).

Then it was off to see an exciting new Tory MP , Rory Stewart. A fascinating character-you just have to see his remarkable cv. He is hugely interested in the Big Society concept and is closely involved in one of the pilots in Eden in his Cumbrian constituency.

We had a good discussion around stereotypes of the sector and what role we can play as a sector. He talked about the work and challenges of NGOs in Afghanistan which he knows well.

Then off to the DH for a key meeting with the CEO of the NHS Sir David Nicholson and key members of his staff who are working on the reform programme.

ACEVO has a strong partnership with DH and have been working closeley on reform ideas- particularly since the non lamented demise of the Burnham preferred provider nonsense.

David Nicholson said he thought the NHS was embarking on one of the biggest challenges they have faced for many years. He made the point that the NHS are moving from a period of strong growth in resources each year; running at around 4% to 5% per annum to no growth each year. And with continuing rising demand. And a complete change in commissioning arrangements.

He argued managers will have to learn to live with more risk and to work in partnership. And he warned that we know that a significant amount of change fails- so the transition process is a crucial one.

The focus on commissioning will stress the divide between provider and purchaser. It will be crucial to ensure we look at outcomes from both. He believes the provider changes will be more dramatic- this is core to the role of our sector and how we deliver health outcomes.

So back to the Pope.There has been some fascinating coverage of the Pope's visit. A particularly good piece from Philip Blond of ResPublica on Today , which illuminated some of the progressive side of the current Pope's teachings.

There is quite a paradox between the Pope and his highly reactionary , dangerous and divisive teaching on sex and his championing of the need for sustainability ( his 10 commandments on the environment for example) and the most recent Encylical Caritas in Veritate which advocates a strong role for the third sector.

I was amused by my official invite to the state banquet. It says " lounge suits-national dress-cassocks. I think I would look rather good in a cassock. A Cardinal Ref obviously! Not inappropriate for a chief of chiefs eh!

No comments: