Two meetings with Cabinet Ministers scheduled yesterday. Unfortunately both at the same time so I split the delight between Ralph Michell; my dynamic Policy Director (with Chris Grayling) and me with Jeremy Hunt.
I was seeing Jeremy with Provider colleagues from the NHS Confederation and the Foundation Trust Network. Hunt was impressive; he has clearly been put there to work the stakeholders of the NHS. So untested yet, but he clearly sees that the service has key priorities like long term conditions and the elderly. He spoke about the need to encourage excellence and innovation and the potential for an Ofsted style rating system for hospitals and GPs. All power to his arm I say. The Nuffield Foundation (old friend Jennifer Dixon in charge) is looking at how this might work. Citizens need a better guide to enable them to make effective choices.
Ralph also had a good session with Chris Grayling. He has shown splendid determination to tackle the reoffender problem; the revolving door of people going to prison, not getting rehab and then back in within a year. Grayling clearly sees the need for change and for the sector to be at the forefront. The meeting went well and ACEVO will be working with members to both help develop policy and support members to bid for the new contracts. Although there has been loose talk on how this will simply be a Work Programme clone I'm convinced (although it will be PBR) there will be enough difference to make this work for us.
So now I'm off to the House of St Barnabas in Soho Square. ACEVO Member, Sandra Schembri has great plans for this gorgeous Soho institution that supports the homeless. Sandra has launched a private members’ club in her lovely georgian building in Soho but the fees go to the charity and it’s staffed by homeless people training to work in hospitality. The charity's vision is sustained employment for those affected by homelessness.
Another innovative way we how the sector leading in ways to help the most vulnerable. Much needed against the background yesterday of further cuts to local council budgets!