A meeting this morning in Tufton St, more usually known as the supplier of Church furnishings and ephemera to the Higher end of the Church of England. Frances Maude MP and Nick Hurd MP meeting with key sector leaders.
For some of us this has been a long journey. ACEVO has been advocating the role of our sector in delivering public services for over a decade. We know the barriers and the problems that stand in the way. What we need is Government to do something about them. So the first Third Sector Action Plan (author one Ed Miliband) set our bold ambitions and described the barriers. Then did little about them. Similarly the current Government set out their vision in "Open Public Services", a good White Paper but now hardly mentioned or referenced. Certainly this agenda is low down the action pile.
But nevertheless there is progress. The latest plans for reoffending will need a big role for third sector charities and social enterprises. And in health and social care it is simply not possible to deliver change without expanding our sector's role.
So want needs to happen:
* Progress on measures to provide a fair playing field for the sector to compete,
* Loans to enable us to access capital (there is no supply at present)
* A clear policy lead and determination form Government Ministers and civil servants to open up public services for more citizen and community focused approaches
* Bold steps to ensure local government implement the rights in the Localism Act.
* A general "right to choice" enshrined in legislation to ensure people have control over the public services they own and pay for.
It's been a long haul but at least there is now much more acceptance of the rational behind the need for service delivery, and an acceptance of the need to end and promote it across our own sector. Progress. If slow.