Monday 1 October 2012


Well , I have swapped the delights of the Hanseatic state of Hamburg for the rainy pleasures of Manchester. The Labour Party Conference. We have our fringe event at lunchtime; David Miliband talking on  youth unemployment and the acevo Commission he chaired. And then to show ACEVO is strictly non party political I will be welcoming Ed Miliband to the ACEVO- community evening gig.

Our party with the progressive union Community has become one of the highlights of the Conference season. Last year saw me take to the floor for a twirl to the bootleg Beatles. Who knows what we shall see tonight but I'm sure it will be videoed.....

Labour need to work on their strategy for the third sector.  So far it has simply been to attack "Big Society". And fair enough , they are the opposition. But with the coalition hardly mentioning this any more , they need to spell out a more realistic view , especially on public service reform.

A knee jerk , " public sector is best" approach will not hack it. That can be seen in their response on health. Andy Burnham has yet to outline how he would meet the challenge of shifting resources into community support , prevention and social care. we know the problems of the work programme but Labour needs to spell out how it will tackle the next round of tendering after the 5 year contracts come up. On crime will we see a shift to a full scale rehabilitation revolution?

The Government seem to be downplaying the role of the sector. It ought to be centre stage , as an engine for growth , for job creation and a fairer more just society. How telling that when the Government announced the new bill on pound funded State Bank to encourage SMEs no mentions made of the third sector. Yet we know we can deliver jobs.

When I was in Devon at the CVS summit I heard from a member that her organisation had created 118 new jobs for youth under the Future Jobs Scheme. And she says that 85% are still in a job now.
We have a dearth of imagination from the Coalition about our sector .  So this is the time for a strikingly fresh approach from Labour. A third sector action plan.

To his great credit Ed has outlined the need for radical action on youth unemployment. And his record as the very first third sector Minister means we have high hopes....

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