Monday 28 July 2008

Zeitgeist and Warwick

I have been taken to task by " anon" for my less than respectful comments on the "superstarry lamb banana"sculptures I assumed were mutant cows. Now apparently Liverpool's half lamb and half banana creation is a wonderful reflection of the scouse zeitgeist.....and appropriate to a City rich in history as a port involved historically in the export of lambs and the import of bananas. So there you go . Glad we have that straight.

And I thought it was time for Sparkles to make her debut on the blog ; and don't those Hollyhocks look superb ( see photo below )! It was such a brilliant weekend . So hot in fact that I hardly picked up my blackberry , and for me that is unusual .

Was not the news from the gathering at Warwick depressing ? The weekend when Labour Party activists , ministers and unions got together to discuss their Manifesto. The reporting of the huge list of demands from the unions was like being transported to Jurassic Park. Old and tired stuff form a different era. Although it is said no concessions were made on the issue of public service reform and outsourcing to the third and private sectors , I wonder ? And do you think there was anything on the third sector? The unions are indifferent to the sector and some are actively hostile to our increasing role so I have a sinking feeling there will have been little at all for the sector in these discussions .If that is so then that will have been a serious error for the Labour Party . Whilst there are many members of Government who seriously get our role , this is sadly not true across much of the union movement or ,I suspect , with Labour activists. At such times I am reminded of the comments of Peter Drukker that the 21st century is the century of the third sector. And it is clear the conservatives are making the role of the sector a key part of their platform.It will be interesting to find out just how much attention the panjandrum's of Labour spent in discussing the role of the sector and whether in tackling the social and economic travails of the country they see us playing anything other than a marginal role?

I had a fantastic meeting with Esther Rantzen this morning to discuss some work we may be doing with her .She has just published a book; " If not now ,when? Living the baby boomer adventure ". It tackles the issue of age and the potential waste of the talent of the baby boomer generation , of which I am a proud member. She was great . I saw her at the Centre for Social Justice Awards which she was ably comparing . We were discussing whether as you get older you get more irascible and inflexible . I said, " yes , guilty " . She said isn't it just that we have reached the point where we know hope does not triumph over experience !!

Saturday 26 July 2008

Kultur and the superstarry lamb banana

So Liverpool is the European Capital of Culture ; or so I am told on numerous occasions by the train conduct er as I make my way to Liverpool. At each station stop , and in between. And I now know more than is desirable about Liverpool's footballing triumphs. All this and a detailed breakdown of the refreshments available. I am thinking of forming a new charity to offer therapy to train conductors who feel the urge to grab the microphone and blab . And what with the 2 babies exercising the Right ot Wail ( did Herod have a point ? )my train journey was not of the most relaxing .

Now quite what being a Capital of Culture means is not immediately apparent when I arrive in Liverpool.Does it have something to do with the scores of sculptures of what appear to be mutant cows that one sees littering the streets and squares? On closer inspection I discover these are in fact " superstarry lamb bananas ". So that's clear then .Not mutant . Just Culture.

I am in Liverpool for an acevo north meeting of members. We have lunch and talk of the state of the sector .When I worked for 7 years for the Association of Metropolitan Authorities I got to know the great Northern cities well .Indeed I can bore for England on the glories of the metropolitan Town Halls ; underrated stars of our English landscape .Liverpool is a particularly fine city . The Georgian terraces and the monuments to our glorious seafaring Empire are uplifting . I had a Great Uncle x4, Dr William Somervillle Limrick who had his practice here in the 1850s . He had settled here from Union Hall in Ireland , land of my forefathers. The Church in Waterloo ,where he married , is a glorious Anglican treasure.

So my days with the AMA have made me understand the importance of a strong regional presence for acevo . Ever since I was appointed we have been holding events and conferences outside London and this culminated last year in the establishment of acevo north . And Jenny Berry , our Director , is already making her mark . It was good to see that ncvo are also holding their first conference outside London , in Manchester in fact and doing so in cooperation with active acevo member Alex Whinnon , who runs the Manchester CVS. I hope it goes well. The sector needs a strong presence across the UK . And the infrastructure bodies need to be connected .It is all too easy to get closeted in London and miss the importance of regional developments. The meeting goes well and it is great to see Bert Massie there as well. he takes an application form off for a colleague who is a sector CEO and who needs our support and comfort.

I do in fact end up having a day of culture . I manage to get into the exhibition dedicated to Gustav Klimt at Tate North . Ever since I saw the Klimts in Vienna when I was 18 and on one of those interail month holidays I have been an admirer . And the exhibition , small but packed with marvellous works is a real treat. A major disappointment though is that I discover a rather brilliant tie with a Klimt design in the exhibition shop . But I have not brought my wallet . Disaster.

And before I catch the train back I get a snatched half hour in the Walker Art Gallery . There is a picture there i have always loved ,of Dante and Beatrice by the Pont Vecchio , painted by Halliday . i even have an old Victorian copy I gave recently to my poet nephew to hang in his rooms at Christ Church ( he was studying Dante ) .

On my return to London I meet up with Thierry Weisphaut , the President of Euclid .We are having dinner at my Club. As a Frenchman he knows his wine . So we treat ourselves to a Chateau Giscours 1988 . It is stunning . And we have Beef Wellington .It seems inappropriate to remind him of the marvels of that glorious battle of Waterloo. I tell him I had a forebear who fought with Wellington in India to soften the blow. I discover that Thierry has never eaten Stilton , so we finish of the remains of our amazing claret with the round of Stilton , and I tell Theirry where to go for some to take back to his home in Alsace. We have a great evening. We are both keen to ensure euclid grows and flourishes . It will , with an English Secretary General and a French President . Vive L'Entente Cordialle.

As I blog Sparkles sits on my lap in the Charlbury Library . She has just had her microchip injected . She behaved impeccably . The vet prounced her a " confident dog".But now its time for lunch in our unusual sun .Thinking of holidays soon to come.

Thursday 24 July 2008


The Proms are a most wonderful British institution . I was there last night with the Talented Mr Fielding ( headhunter by appointment to the third sector ). And we were sitting in the Box that was always used by Nick Kenyon , until last year the long time Director of the Proms.My old Oxford mate Alec McGivan is now the BBC Director of Communications etc and he has invited a group to partake in high culture. Its a classic Prom ; Brahms and Mendelssohn . The highlight though has to be the Brahms Piano Concerto 2 . There were moments in that recital ( with the incredible pianist Lars Vogt ) when I realised it is beautiful to be alive. Oh , and always networking ;there were no less than 3 third sector CEOs in the Box who had not yet availed themselves of the warmth and comfort of acevo . A strange omission , as I tell them . How can they pay proper attention to their professional development if they are not in the CEO club ? In fact one of them ,Simon Keyes, who runs the St Ethelburga's Centre for Peace and Reconciliation was an acenvo member many moons ago . Membership packs winging their way even as we blog.

I had a phone call from the British High Commission in Pretoria. The South African Government are seriously interested in how third sector organisations in South Africa might expand service delivery. They ask if I would help with a potential visit by the First Lady, Mrs Mbeki to see what we are doing here- nothing fixed but an idea. . I say I am delighted at the chance to showcase the work we do , the work of the Office of the Third Sector , the Compact and Futurebuilders. Increasingly acevo and euclid our European network are being contacted by oversees governments and third sector bodies to talk about our service delivery role. We are the global market leader. It's an area where the UK can take pride in showcasing the value and potential of the Sector. It would be good if they thought it worth coming .

Its a point I make at the first meeting of the Ministry of Justice - third sector task force that acevo has set up with David Hanson , the Justice Minister . We will work over the summer on the core issues that keep the sector back from delivering more focused services in prisons and with Probation . Our view is that we must retain targets and ensure any best value regime operates in a way that allows more services to be delivered through the third sector . acevo is now preparing a report to draw on our experience of other departments and the barriers that stop delivery and how we can develop intelligent commissioning . I like the approach of David Hanson .We had problems in the run up to the establishment of the group but we are both very clear it can offer real potential . I had a phone cal with him before the meeting and we both agreed that we can make progress together . In fact David has worked in the sector as a third sector Chief Executive so he knows the potential that is there. We have to report to him by end September , so tight . But we will do it.

Good news on the European front . Euclid has been awarded a grant from the European Commission to develop the euclid website. When you are developing a European wide network of sector leaders it's essential that we make full use of new technology ; the web development is crucial to that .

And the euro theme brings me back to the Proms. Whilst this is essentially a quintessential British institution it showcases the best in European music . And it has a huge following in Europe. The German's in particular are huge fans , and the Last Night is , improbably , a big hit over there . I remind Alec that I am available for the Last Night should he wish to invite me . He has done for the last 4 years so here's looking to the flag waving and Jerusalem !!

Tuesday 22 July 2008

amendments and dining with the Board

The Guardian has a policy of correcting factual mistakes., if not of interesting reporting . So my Blog should do likewise.

First I made a serious omission in reporting on my lunch with Peter Wanless , CEO of the Big Lottery Fund. I omitted to mention the tie he was wearing . Such things are , of course, important in judging character . And Peter emails me to point out that he was indeed wearing what he describes as ," a rather fetching Kenzo number ". And he was right . It was . A fellow devotee of Duchamp , we must get together and support the retying of James Purnell project , as his Private office are obviously not up to the challenge.

And then the Charity Commission . As I said in my Blog on Saturday I had not read the full judgment on the John Smith Institute. My two brain Policy Head has now done this. And his view is that the ruling is sound , and does not bear out the reportage in the Guardian . The judgment is based on a risk based approach . So it is not arguing you should not have meetings at No 10 or 11 but that if the majority of your meetings are there it could give the perception of a bias. And they are not arguing you should not have politicians or that they make political comments , just that you need to ensure there is a balanced approach . This is indeed sensible . And it is important that as charities we retain our independence and our ability to both support Government when they do what is right and in accord with out mission , but also that we are critical in approach so we examine what the alternative positions are.

I speak to Andrew Hind of the Charity Commission and I am reassured about the judgment. And I send it to all my members so that they can judge for themselves.As he says the Commission has been at pains to support the right of charities to campaign and advocate . This is crucial to our role . And such activity will often be political . But a balanced approach is key and perceptions of bias could damage trust and confidence. So the key here is not that we stop doing what may be seen as political , at the edge and difficult , simply that we cannot afford to be seen as strongly aligned to one political party , as opposed to another. I hope that the reporting does not scare off charities campaigning hard as it is crucial to what we do , and core to our role as civil society. Edgy , outspoken and not afraid to upset. Its what we do .Thank God.

There was a wonderful article in the Observer at the weekend which reported on Australia Federal Court judgment . This struck down an oppressive and rather silly state law that had made it an offence to "annoy " catholics. This was done in advance of the visit of the Pope. They said this law was " repugnant to fundamental rights and freedoms at common law " freedom of speak cannot be maintained in a society where nobody ever says anything subversive or inflammatory. Spot on Australia. Shame on the mother country that we are wiping out such freedoms , but hooray for the former colonies protecting them .

I have an FBE day , and the evening is a Board meeting . It is a distinguished Board , and with a large collection of skill , experience and view , not necessarily conducive to timely Chairing. But actually it is disciplined and supportive. The comments are nearly always of use in taking the mission forward. We discuss the re changing and reforming nature of the new FBE regime . Our mission to get closer to the customer , but also clearer on our mission to drive up service delivery . We discuss the targeting of areas of underinvestment like offender management . We are setting up a new product to help third sector bodies in the drive to outsource services from Probation to the sector. We have a first meeting of the MoJ -acevo task force tomorrow . Jonathan Lewis, our CEO, is a member as is Rob Owen who runs the St Giles Trust (one of my members and an FBE board member).

There have been various behind the scenes discussions between acevo and the MoJ to get this off the ground. I cannot report that these have always been entirely smooth and amicable , but then Government often finds the third sector puzzling and perplexing. Good we have acevo leading the charge , and fearless in pursuit of the right path .

After the FBE Board we have supper together . It's a relaxing occasion and one where you can get to know fellow Board members at a more personal and intimate level . I sit next to Kevin Carey who I like more and more. It helps he is a committed lay reader in the dear old CoE. And on the correct wing of that Church . And how can you not but like someone who not only knows one of my favourite choral pieces; Stanford's setting of Evensong in G , but then sings the opening lines . Which are , if you do not know them , spine jingling. And I talk recession and Government policy towards, with Harriett Baldwin , ex JP Morgan , Chair of our Investment Committee and Tory candidate for Malvern . She is about to go to Rwanda to look at developing micro credit organisations there . But no time to see the gorillas . Bad decision!

And we have sun .I have a rare moment of contemplation sitting in Soho Square eating my sushi lunch ; note the healthy eating option which I blow at dinner by having a glorious steak . But I did do the gym first thing!

Monday 21 July 2008

Welfare reform ; bring it on !

The key news today is the DWP Green Paper , " No one written off " . I go to the Launch at Church House where James Purnell puts in a stellar performance , followed by Stephen Timms and David Freud . There is a whole heap of sector people there , including various members . We then get a live feed to the Commons statement by James. He is a seriously good communicator , but the response by Chris Grayling for the Tories strikes a juvenile note that sums up why many people are turned off by politics. If , as he says , he supports the proposals then why a string of childish insults to show that support ? Or am I being naive?

This is a major reform which offers the sector real opportunities for growth . Whether it is in expanding our volunteering programmes , or the work we do on drug treatments or the expansion of service delivery by many of my members , this could be a serious transformation for our sector. There will be challenges for us as well . Many will not like the emphasis on conditionality of benefits and the devil is in the detail of the proposals which we now need to dissect in out policy team .We have sent it out to members so should get a quick response which will help us gauge reaction. I hope that in the work acevo has done to promote the role of employment charities we can claim credit for helping move this debate forward.

When acevo went to see the then Prime Minister back in 2006 I made a presentation that included the example of what employment reforms achieved in Australia where now almost 50% of the service is provided through the third sector. Blair was really interested in this and followed it up . Indeed I know that this was one of the reasons he and John Hutton commissioned the Freud Report . That report was scuppered by the HMT and then Peter Hain was told to ignore it . But I'm glad to say James saw that Freud was the right way forward. And it is. I also claim some credit for the rediscovery of Beveridge and what he wrote about how welfare reform should not crowd out individual responsibility or voluntary action. I had a copy of the original Beveridge report until recently .As it happens it was the copy that belonged to Ernest Bevin . When I worked at the TGWU they were clearing out the cupboards and a lot of his papers were off to the bins when I rescued some of the more interesting documents. I have now given my copy to Ed Miliband to remind him that the third sector has a crucial role in service delivery .

The launch gave me the opportunity to voice acevo's support for the Green paper and that is reflected in our press release. My comments followed the speech from the representative of the TUC who denounced the Paper and says the TUC Will oppose it . I wonder if they ever reflect on whether this is a good approach to take ? Clearly there will be issues for our sector and that is one reason for our acevo - DWP task force . David Freud responds to my comments by saying that there are great opportunities for the third and private sectors to work together . I agree . But that is not always easy , especially when we are in direct competitors . I believe in our services , and not always sure that all parts of the commercial sector are as motivated to deliver client facing services . And obviously I am by nature more in favour of organisations that put their surplus back into services rather than profit. But it is a good point and a bit later I see Stephanie Elsey of SERCO and we discuss whether we might do some research on the scope for third-private partnerships - TPPs . Might be interesting And there are some examples of this amongst members .

Leaving the Launch later I bump into Ed Balls and say how good this reform is . He agrees . And says how well James did . Interesting response from a potential rival I guess. I suspect James has polished his credential as a future leader today .

I hope the sector does respond positively and see the opportunities as opposed to the potential problems. acevo will show leadership in pointing to the value but will aslo take up member concerns and feed them into the DWP thinking so that when the Green Paper is turned into legislation we get an even better result.

Before James goes off to the Commons we have a quick word . He thinks today's tie is a little dull , until I point out it is an aboriginal design I bought in Sydney ! That changed his tune . And he seemed to be wearing the same tie he had on last week . Is it not time his private office went on a shopping expedition for their SoS ? Still, I later see that GB wears the purple tie that now seems his staple. But then obviously he would regard it as an environmental sin to have more than about 4 ties I suspect . And such indifference to mere style as opposed to substance is to his credit....and not mine Bubb .

I hear later that in the Commons debate James refers specifically to acevo's work and how he had asked acevo to look into these issues and why they have set up a task force.Now that is the sort of news to cheer a CEO . And it makes a change from the last time acevo was being liberally quoted in the Commons , pace my comment that in the Pathways to Work tenders the sector had been " comprehensively stuffed ". We have moved on!

Before the launch I have lunch with Peter Wanless , the CEO of the Big Lottery Fund. We have not met before and I like him . We discuss how we might work more closely together , especially as they will be consulting later in the year on future directions . They are also going to look back on what the lottery has achieved for sector funding. He says they have a huge amount of information on what works and what does not and they need to capitalise on this and make this more available . How right this is. As Thatcher said of Gorbachev , I can do business with this guy!

Saturday 19 July 2008

and the winner is...

The winner of the caption competition ( see photo on blog below ) is the member of staff with the following ;

" Lovely meal Stephen , what exactly is sauteed Sparkles anyway ".

They have been sacked.

A close runner up however was ,

" Young , oh dear I can't remember what that was like ".

A Board member so they have not been sacked.

And now to serious matters ; The Charity Commission . They have ruled against the John Smith Institute on complaints about political neutrality . I have asked for the full transcript so we can review for our members .But the Guardian report this morning is worrying. It says the CC have criticised the charity for the number of events it held in No11 Downing St , because of the political nature of the venue .Come again? I thought No 11 was the seat of the Chancellor of the Exchequer .Of course then holder of that office is a politician . We live in a democracy . Any number of charities are proud to have events and receptions at No 11 and No 10 . it shows Government support for the sector . acevo was delighted when the Prime Minister hosted our 20th anniversary reception . Were we supposed to turn it down because the Prime Minister is also the Leader of the Labour Party?

They go on to say that charity trustees should ensure that all speakers are "politically neutral ". Now I would not expect Ed Miliband or Greg Clark to come to an acevo event and say " vote Labour /Tory " , but I sure would expect them to set out their views . And those views will be political . We are asking Nick Clegg to a lunch for acevo north members soon. I hope he speaks about more than just the weather. We have had a range of Tory speakers and Ministers . All are asked because my members want to know what their views are on matters that are the essence of politics . When we had Greg Clark at our recent conference he set out Tory plans for the sector and criticised government , that is what he should do and what members wanted . He was followed by Alan Milburn with his views on social exclusion and our role and that of government. It was entirely appropriate and useful for our CEOs.

The Vice Chair of the John Smith Institute says the Charity Commission are being naive . A healthy democracy requires both an effective civil society but also a fully functioning and lively political democracy . Much of what our sector does is political . If we are not engaged with , and contributing to political debate our democratic system will be the worst for it . This is not about party politics but a pluralistic society . I will have to look at this in more detail but I'm disappointed .

Lets hope the Guardian report turns out to be wrong . Andrew Hind comments please.

Friday 18 July 2008

Young CEOs and James Purnell

James Purnell: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is brilliant. A star performer. He was our guest last night at the acevo young CEO dinner.

One of the young CEOs present emailed me this morning to say.

" James is a very good man - a refreshment and replenisher of hope "

The above picture is the subject of a caption competition in the office. I shall let you know the result but feel free to add your comments!

This was another in the series of acevo young CEOs dinners (yes, I was there in line with our equal opportunity policy as the token oldie). Started off by Ed Miliband, this one was held at CCLA, one of our members in the City. They are one of the biggest mutual investment organisations for the third sector, and are great supporters as well as purveyors of fine dining to acevo members. As you can see it was most agreeable. (Future acevo dinners and lunches feature, amongst others, Jacqui Smith and the Archbishop of Canterbury, so acevo members book now as places are limited !)

It was a tremendous evening. The talent and brain power of the young CEO group is awesome. Not a whinge or moan in sight. And James clearly enjoyed being able to engage at an intellectual level and what is particularly gratifying for me is that a Secretary of State sees acevo at its best. Energetic, dynamic and go getting. Sometimes people in the sector forget that when they constantly complain (and I know there is a lot to complain about) the impression they can leave with government ministers damages the sector and our claims to be innovative and effective.

I have to mention 3 stars in particular as they played a major role in the debate - the hugely bright Nick Wilkie : he was at NCVO and now runs London Youth , the wizzy and engaging Matthew Thompson who runs REconomy CIC and the charming Simon Blake who runs Brook , the sexual health charity and who is also doing his best to turn Compact Voice into a forward thinking and dynamic body.

I have a word with James afterwards: He is launching his Green Paper on welfare reform on Monday so he gives me "heads up" on the proposals. Its great news for the sector. Huge opportunities for us to expand provision of focused client driven employment and training, and getting people off benefit and into work

We also talk about the problem of the sector's lack of capital. I tell him this is an area where FBE can help and we are going to look at this in our FBE Board meeting on Tuesday.

I'm glad to say he greatly approves of my tie. A man of taste clearly!

I remind James that the National Consumers Council conducted research into user satisfaction of public services delivered by the 3 sectors. In employment training the third sector out performed the public and private sectors by a clear margin.

So give us more to run James. And keep on pushing for reform. We need the true believers !

Thursday 17 July 2008

Loving the French and Balls

Every so often you have a meeting with someone and you know they are kindred spirits. So it was with Hugues Sibille who is the Directeur Général Délégué of Credit Coopératif. His is the largest third sector bank in the country. He is also the Chair of their venture capital fund and is fascinated by Futurebuilders. He thinks it's a great name. So I agree that my CEO and I will meet their people to talk about how we do social investment perhaps a little too far off doing joint projects? I must mention to OTS! He is also a key figure in the last Government in France when he was Director of the Inter-ministerial Liaison Department for Social Economy - a role that is similar to a brief to cover the third sector, or the social economy as they describe it. .

I like the French. What I particularly like is being able to talk about food and wine with people who take it for granted that you should enjoy this and be knowledgeable about the finer aspects of such. Mention a liking for fine wine in the UK and you are immediately thought of as a snob or dilettante the French find this Anglo Saxon puritanism puzzling.

Hugues is a man who knows his claret Chateaux and appellations. We agree over lunch that there are few things finer in life than a top white Burgundy, though like me he is unclear as to whether he prefers a Chassagne or a Puligny Montrachet. I have taken them for lunch at the British Museum. It's a great restaurant and it has the advantage that you contribute to the running of a magnificent third sector institution rather than putting money into the pockets of the private sector.

I manage to spend a whole afternoon in the office and wander around raising morale, spreading ideas and encouraging ever more delivery. Preferably immediately when it comes to my latest thoughts and suggestions. It is with expressions of relief all round when I finally leave to go to a DCFS reception that Ed Balls is throwing for stakeholders.

He says "partnerships are often uncomfortable; but that is how they should be". That is absolutely right. If we can't give grief when things go wrong but also praise when they are right there is no point in a partnership. I believe this strongly in acevo. We will always work with Government to get a better deal. I will always give support to the right policies and not be afraid to say so, even when other parts of the sector are being critical. But no one would ever suggest I don't bite the hand that feeds us. If a Department screws up, like MoJ are doing now and DWP have done in the past, I'm the first to say so. No one who castigated DWP with such force as I do when they "comprehensively stuffed" us but also key to how to manage acevo is that I always offer a way to put things right. So with DWP we set up the Macdonald Enquiry and we are now working closely with James Purnell on reform. And with MoJ we have a Taskforce to establish to try and pull things back from the disaster of the unimplemented Offender Management Act.

I move effortlessly from chatting to Ed Balls to the Award Ceremony for the Centre for Social Justice - the Ian Duncan Smith lot. I have a good discussion with Francis Maude on commissioning. We are doing work to feed into his Review. It is essential that if the Government changes they have policies for the sector that work for us.

I meet a lot of people, thanks to the introductions of Harriett Baldwin, the Tory expert on social enterprise and who is my Vice Chair at FBE. I'm tipping her to be the Third Sector Minister- its very clear Greg Clark is destined for great things. His interview in Third Sector is very revealing. I doubt it will be long before he has a Front Bench brief. He should.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Queen Elizabeth I at No 10

"He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek"

Words from the Magnificat. An admonishment to overweening Chief Executives. I have to remind myself of this at times!

Today was a case in point. The chance to speak in No 10 with an audience of ministers and top civil servants. There was a time when this would have me seriously swatting up and burning the midnight oil. And it is true I was nervous. But now I see these as just fantastic opportunities to spread the message about the power and potential of the third sector. I have always seen that as a core part of my CEO role at acevo. I'm passionate about it and I hope that comes through when I speak. If you have an honest but powerful message and you believe it with determination it will show.

It was the launch of the Public Services Forum joint statement on skills and trade unions. So a plethora of Permanent Secretaries, the Cabinet Secretary, six Ministers, the panjandrums of the Trade Union world and the CBI.

I was speaking for the third sector following on from Government,TUC and CBI. Bizarrely I am speaking under a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. John Denham MP points out she is the author of the first laws on apprenticeships. Brendan Barber alludes to her and so I point out that she was also the author of the first charity law in 1601 which lasted for nigh on 400 years before the recent reforms. It's a nice lead into my argument that the third sector has always been a vital part of our economic and social life in the UK and we are rediscovering the power of the sector in delivering citizen focused services, forging social cohesion and acting as voice and champion. I say we will continue to grow so we need good ER. And I talk of our report by Nita Clarke on union and sector relations.

My Chair drags me away from the networking for the acevo board - which is a dream of a board. It's not every CEO who can say they have a supportive but questioning board. Good governance we need. The sector does not always have it.

And I end up at Cumberland Lodge, a former Royal residence in Windsor Great Park which is now used as an educational retreat. I'm presenting a paper on whether the private sector is a rival or role model. My answer is yes to both. The only sane answer. I'm not a great believer in drawing broad stereo types of how one sector is so different or so much better than another. I realise we all think we have halos for working in our dearly loved third sector but strange as it might seem there are strongly principled and ethical people in the public and private sectors. And some idiots too. In all it's a good debate and a wide range of speakers. Stuart Etherington this morning and great to catch up on where the sector skills agenda is going over the splendid dinner. Commissioner Cordon is here (I tell him to stop frigging around and make the post statutory - as you do) a couple of FBE investees and one of my favourite civil servants, Pat Samuel of the OTS, who I have business with!

But to end on humility. I present a slide that lists some of the characteristics of a third sector CEO which we drew up in acevo's professional development group. It includes the suggestion that one of these is "personal humility". When I discuss it later with Tom Flood of BTCV (and one of my Board Members) we agree that this might not be a strong attribute of many of our colleague CEOs. Indeed a lashing of chutzpah and cheek is probably a better defining characteristic? Do you agree?

Monday 14 July 2008

Close encounters of an animal kind , and the TUC

It was a strange day. Sorting issues with my Chief Executive at FBE , lunch with Ben Wittenburg of the Directory of Social Change , a meeting of the Board of Rockpools (the search consultancy )and then off to the TUC for the Public Service Forum .My lunch with Ben of the DSC was by way of recompense for attacking a letter he wrote in "Third Sector" , so clearly we began with a glass of champagne . But note only a glass ; I wouldn't want the staff at DSC talking! A useful exchange on public service delivery and its value . They have serious worries about impact on ground in poor funding and contracts . They are right to highlight this , but I believe it comes across as too much of a whinge.

But the day started well with a rather spot on editorial in The Times . This castigates David Cameron for suggesting we have a " broken Society " . As they say there is usually a spokesman for such a view in each generation . The Roman poet Juvenal argued the same 2000 years ago ; muggings in the street,women engaged in traditionally male sport and men marrying men convinced him the social fabric was tearing .

The Met recorded 70 stabbings last year , about the same as a decade ago . It is true there are serious problems in many of our deprived communities and with excluded people. But this has always been so . Yet there has rarely been a time when living standards generally have been as strong , we have lived as long or as healthily and society been as tolerant of difference or cared as much for the sick and disabled.That is not broken , But yet there are serious problems that have to be tackled . And the Tories are right to look at a major role for the sector in doing this.

I seem to recall the Government saying one of their reasons for pursuing 42 days was that they wanted to debate this at a time when there can be reasoned argument as opposed to rushing in emergency legislation on the back of a terrorist atrocity . So how come we now have Government rushing to do "something " on stabbings. And the pre leaks all seem to be going wrong . This is crucial ground for our sector . Will they announce an emergency package of long term funding for the third sector to tackle "the causes of crime " ? Somehow I doubt it . It doesn't pass the " Daily Mail test" ,so better a short term headline than a longer term plan .I may be unfair , as we shall see tomorrow the action plan they will unveil . And Jackie Smith has been right to stress that putting yet more people in prison will not solve the problem in the long term problem.

But back to the Public Services Forum at the TUC . This is something that was set up by the Government as a result of the " Warwick Agreement ". It used to be just a Forum for the private sector and the Unions but we argued successfully for the third sector to be represented. So acevo and ncvo are now on the Forum ( the excellent Liz Atkins attends ).

Today they had Ed Miliband to talk on world class public services .Ed had a rather good interview in the Guardian at the weekend .We should hear more from Ed ; he is a real star of the current cabinet . Out from the shadows Ed! But public services is the cue for major grumbles and whinges.They denounce the fantastic BERR report from DeAnne Julius launched last week . I accept that the unions have an entirely valid viewpoint on public services being delivered by the public sector and their opposition to privatisation .They are right to battle for the best terms for their members. The problem is when they then extend that to oppose delivery through the Third Sector or imply that what matters is who delivers the service rather than what citizen's want. And that then gets in the way of campaigning for better terms for all staff employed in delivery of services. My members know that they can only deliver top class service to clients through great staff . And employment relations are key to that,so many of my members are very happy to work with the unions and want to encourage better relations .

I present the report that acevo commissioned from Nita Clarke on union and third sector relations . This underlines the need to make progress on relationships and makes a range of sound recommendations . I wish I could report a long debate and a strong endorsement of the report but it was a polite response from Brendan Barber (TUC general Secretary ). Still I guess it wasn't an outright rejection so we can move it on . I am speaking at the launch of the Joint statement on skills and union recognition tomorrow at No 10.I have already arranged to send to all my 2200 members with a recommendation to look at how it is implemented for them in their own circumstances. And tonight The Times phone me for a quote on the document .

i arrive home to a sweet email from my nephew Julian ( the hearty one at Keble College , rather than the poet at Christ Church). He is currently on an internship at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. He has just been climbing Mt Washington ; the highest peak in NE America . But with a canoe so that he and friends could take it onto the Lake of the Clouds . Though as he observed , " I can't help thinking that it would have been a far more noble endeavour to carry something that was not merely unwieldy but also of no practical use - a grand piano, for instance. " Clearly demonstrating an admirably eccentric streak that would do his Uncle proud!

The weekend was not as usual devoted to my blackberry or blogging . The new arrival seems to have taken over . Puppies require rather a lot of attention I am discovering! Saturday was barbecue time . Now I realise the weather was not entirely conducive to such activity but I'm British so as I had planned such I was blowed if I was not going to have such . So sitting in my Courtyard with Sparkles and barbecue I suddenly realise that Sparkles has had a close encounter with a Toad ! Mr Toad has lived in my courtyard for about 5 years . I'm not sure who was more surprised , but I thought before my Jack Russell decided it was a toy to be grasped firmly between the jaws I better intervene.

Friday 11 July 2008

How Big

" How big, how good, where next?". An unusual title for a Government report I thought; but a good general question. about many things In this case about the" public services industry" ie public services provided through the third and private sectors.

I was at the launch of the BERR Review led by Dr DeAnne Julius in the HQ of what I still think of as the Department of Trade! My Deputy Dr Kyle was a member of the Julius Review but as he is in San Francisco (disgracefully deporting himself) I was deputising for him!

Julius says the public services industry is now a big and growing part of the economy. Indeed she argues that the UK is the global leader in this area. It accounts for a turnover of £80bn - the second highest in the world after the States but the most developed. It is 33% of the total public sector delivery. And it is an industry that has grown by 130% over the last 12 years So this is big business. And it will only grow.

John Hutton says its time we celebrated the contribution the 2 sectors make and particularly praised the third sector. He said that times are changing and whilst his parents would have regarded charity provision as a last resort, now many people see this as the first resort. He argues (correctly) that the ideological battles about this are over as what citizens want is good service The report looks at barriers and impediments and. I question the issue of "competitive neutrality" saying that many sector organisations can't get to the tender table because of poor capacity and infrastructure. I make this point in particular to crush the small business rep there who raises the supposed competitive advantage of charities and our tax breaks! (I regard such comments as the equivalent of spitting at Granny and I will have to pray for his endangered soul)

Afterwards I have a giggle with John Hutton about the interviews on that mornings "Today programme" and the interesting contribution of Mark Serotka attacking Julius. John Hutton asks if I am going on the Trade delegation he is leading to Washington to promote the public service industry in the States. The private sector are well represented but though I was asked I can't go: they wanted participants to contribute to the cost and I just felt that acevo members might not think this a good use of their subscriptions. But it would have been fascinating. And flattering to be asked.

I think this report is important and it was amusing to be reading the PASC report on third sector delivery alongside the BERR report. You can tell the huge difference in the intellectual quality of the two when you compare them. The PASC trots out old Labour nostrums whilst DeAnne Julius actually does research and pays attention to evidence. But then that is what one would expect from a woman who is the Chair of Chatham House, a non exec on BP and Roche, a founding member of the Bank of England Monetary Committee and worked for the world bank and IMF. So evidence and research matter to her. Pity not to PASC. I'm writing an article for Public finance which will draw these comparisons out!

It's clearly international day as I then go off to do a lunch we have laid on to discuss international experience of delivering outsourced. employment Services and what opportunities there are for growth. Bob Melia heads Mentor Employment and Skills, a US social care firm. Bob has experience of the welfare to work market in Australia, the Netherlands, Israel as well as the States. We have drawn together a round table of top government officials, Think Tanks and acevo members to discuss. So I talk about the conclusions from Julius and how we need to be welcoming a bigger role. We should be massively expanding our delivery of welfare to work and I'm sure that is what we will get from the talented James Purnell

All good fun must come to an end and a fantastic morning drains into a tortured afternoon. At the dentist. I comfort myself in the torture chamber that passes for the dentist's surgery with recollections of the early music concert in York Minster and the general theme of death and desolation. If I was in Opus Dei I would be enjoying the time of purgatory I was earning! Oh, and I discover that Chris Arnold who badly failed to mark my blog 10/10 actually works in my building. A floor above. So I've made arrangements to meet and correct his judgment.

David Brindle of "Guardian Society" thought the article (and my marking) a hoot when I saw him at the Julius launch.

I get home to discover a letter from my mother! She has sent me an article from "The Guardian" entitled "Jimmy the Jack Russell is out of control". It has a nice post-it note from Mama: " Where did I go wrong? I seem to have produced children who are lacking common sense!." She does not approve of my recent acquisition of a puppy! But I get a lovely lick from Sparkles (before he attacks my shoes and manages to untie the laces!)

Stephen Bubb

Wednesday 9 July 2008

On media and men ( and Hazel )

I was having a great day till I opened the Third Sector magazine . An article on Blogs with a review of 4 from sector leaders . Mine may have been judged second but it is only scored 7/10 and Adam Sampson gets 8/10. Who is this Chris Arnold guy doing the review and why has he such poor judgment ? It seems he likes the Adam blog cos it has a picture of him " holding a glass " ( a butch beer glass I might add ). And my blog apparently is full of typos. Really ? I always use the spell checker so I blame the computer. Anyway typos are a sign of a free spirit , untroubled by mere convention . Derrida would have approved.

But that aside there is a great story on the idea I have been floating - you read it here first - for a Social Investment and Development Bank . " Bid to build £1bn finance market " ,runs the headline . Interesting that I pick up a couple of negative comments as well as encouragement But I believe you need ambition for our sector. And ideas and innovation . A key part of my role as acevo CEO is thought leadership . If our sector is to grow we must have ambition and people who want to think big. But I have often found that if you have a big idea there will be plenty who like it and then others who can't wait to whinge . If an idea is good though it will withstand the criticism . But if I have learnt anything from my time at acevo, it is to make progress you need to be bold . Limiting ambition is not what our sector is about . I hope to at least start a debate . My argument needs to be tested and debated. if it stands up I hope government will take it forward . If not then it will die . It must be a debate worth having ; driving more capital into our sector to build capacity and develop infrastructure is essential to underpin growth .

It was interesting that last night I was at a dinner where Andrew Neill was speaking . He was clear that this century will see the growth of our sector and the power and influence we wield.Are we ready to take that much bigger role ?

To press home that point it was amusing to see today's FT carrying an article and interview ( page 2 no less ) which enabled me to set out my views on Government commissioning . It was headed " charity chief criticise Whitehall barriers " . It is a good piece of journalism and one that enables me to set out the problems members face in the price driven commissioning culture. Acevo has being battling away at Whitehall on the need for contact reform . And we are making progress . Just as we have made with Full Cost recovery . This is just the sort of real bread and butter issues that keep our sector CEOs awake at night . And its for acevo to fight for a better deal .

Small things can often amuse the CEO ; I am delighted that I manage to get a " breaking news " email to all my members on the launch of the Government White Paper on local government at 12.30 , exactly the time Hazel Blears stands up in the Commons to launch her " Communities in Control " document. Hazel rang me yesterday to give me a heads up on the key proposals .Important to get this information out to members . It is what they pay me for . I go to the launch at Cambridge House; a Settlement in Camberwell . I realise when I get there I have been before , a long time past , in my Lambeth days . They have a great CEO , an acevo member obviously !

Phil Hope announces that there will be a " community builders " fund of £70m to develop community anchors. I am really pleased , as the Chair of the Adventure Capital Fund we wanted this and we will now put in a tender to run it . But am under no illusions that the bid we make will have to be top class and it will be tested .In the world of tendering there are no sure wins and no certainties . We will work hard to put proposals to ensure a first class bid and the great thing about tendering is that the competition will hone the best result for the sector . if it is ACF ,that is good . If it is not then someone else who was better will have won . But I was worried they might give this Fund to local authorities or even the BLF so I'm very happy its to be a tender . I email Ed and Phil to thank them for ensuring this result.

On my way to the launch my nephew Julian ( about to do second year at Keble ) emails me from the States . He has been awarded a distinction in his first year exams . So he is now been awarded a Scholarship . And he writes it is such a relief , " it would have been a bit embarrassing to be the only Bubb at Oxford not to have a scholar's gown " ( his 2 uncles and cousin all won scholarships ). Good for Julian .

As a sign of the times I cannot remember when a local government White Paper dealing with local government would have been launched in a community organisation with a title like" communities in control ". I joke with Hazel afterwards that acevo published a major book with the same title which proved very influential in many of the proposals in Labour's manifesto for 2005 . But as she reminds me she had written a Fabian pamphlet of the same title long before acevo ! It is another indication of the growing ebb of the tide for the institutions of the state and the growth of the power of civil society .

As I blog Sparkles sits on my lap , quiet for a few moments . I have discovered she has great taste ( sic) . Whilst i was watching Newsnight yesterday I saw out of the corner of my eye a Duchamp tie making its way across the living room . Yes , it was Sparkles on one end .

I'm busy reading the classic text " The Perfect Puppy " by Gwen Bailey . All very well but couldn't find the chapter dealing with prevention of abuse of Duchamp ties.

Desolation, death and York

I like Obituaries. That may appear weird but goes with painting family vaults - I guess. But for medieval man they would have their "momento moris " - a reminder of their mortality. A healthy attitude to one's coming demise is a great leveller.

There was a fascinating Obit in the Guardian recently; Michael Marland, a visionary London headteacher who wrote the seminal work "the craft of the classroom"

He wrote:

"The craft won't work without a spirit compounded of the salesman, the Music Hall performer, the parent, the clown, the intellectual, the lover and the organiser, but the spirit won't win through on its own either. Method matters. The more "organised" you are, the more sympathetic you can be."

What a brilliant summary of the job of a charity CEO too! It encapsulates what I wrote about in my CASS lecture; the need for passion and professionalism. No CEO is any good without vision and passion. No CEO will last long without professional staff and keeping an eye on the bottom line either.

I did not have lots of sleep this weekend. Puppies may be lovable frolicking in the grass down by the Charlbury Mill stream but frolicking on your bed at 3am is not quite so amusing!

So a relief of sorts to be on the train to Manchester acevo North was launching the recent Nita Clarke Report on Trades Unions and the Third Sector; "a reet good read written with a Yorkshire accent) as a speaker put it. We are now establishing an acevo working party to look at how to progress the recommendations in the Report. And I am speaking on it at the meeting of the Public Services Forum (a government-employer-third sector Forum) on Monday.

Then it's off to York via the Trans Pennines Express - a marvellous train journey through the hills and dark satanic mills of the north. I am going to see Julia Unwin of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Julia has one major claim to fame in the third sector (I'm sure there are more he hastily adds ) and that is she was the original inventor of Full Cost Recovery! In 1997 she wrote "who pays for core costs" for acevo. And the rest, as they say is history! She was also the first Chair of the Adventure Capital Fund and set it off on its journey - with the mantle now passed to me!

I get to York in time to go to a concert of early music in the Chapter House of York Minster. York is the national centre for early music; a brilliant third sector body as Julia tells me. The acoustics in the medieval building are stunning and the opening sequence led by a full throated counter tenor sends a chill down the spine;

" Domine libera animam a laliis iniquis et a lingua dolosa " Deliver me O Lord from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue,

Exactly, I think.

Of course the CoE Synod is meeting in York I am getting increasingly irritated by the media coverage which describes the evangelical wing of the church as "traditionalists. Bah humbug. I'm a traditionalist. I love the catholic tradition of the Church, the magnificence of the King James Bible, the soaring cadences of the Cranmer Book of Common Prayer and the glorious choral tradition of the church which the English have kept alive.

From what I have seen of Evangelical churches they are full of chattering and pop songs, Vicars in turtle neck sweaters and I suspect they would not recognise an Early English Mass setting if they were hit around the head with a tambourine. Now nothing wrong with that, but what I object to is the barely disguised homophobia and misogyny. I may be a lover of tradition but have strong liberal views on morality. The attitude of some in the church to sex, differing sexual orientations is often offensive and more so by being disguised in the cloak of their own literal (and selective)version of the Old Testament. And here I exhibit the same intolerance that they often show to others. What is it about religion that does this - a point I have debated with the Director of the National Secular Society (an acevo member).

But enough of the rant. I feel deeply sorry for The Archbishop (he is speaking at an acevo lunch in December) who has a house in Charlbury and who I have occasional worshipped with at the 8am BCP Communion in the Charlbury Parish church. The role of the CoE in our national life is important. The parish church is often a real centre of community activity. It is especially true in rural areas. And often it is the Church that plays a crucial role in our most deprived communities where practically the only professional left living in the area is the Parish Priest.

As well as a visit to JRF I have time to go to the market and pick up some toys and treats for Sparkles. Our new puppy! Oh, and tea from the incredible Betty's Tea Rooms. And even pop into some of the great medieval churches of York. One in particular I like - Holy Trinity. It's now run by the Churches Conservation Trust. Its CEO is Crispin Truman - an active acevo member and a talented and amusing guy.

But back to The Chapter House of York. And the glorious music of the 17th century The evening's programme is unremittingly about misery, desolation and death. The burden of the chains of sin and the glowing coals of hell fire. It's all most agreeable.

Saturday 5 July 2008

Sparkles arrives and Hazel reminisces

Welcome to Sparkles. 9 weeks old . A neat little bundle of fun .She is Jack Russell and arrived in Charlbury this morning . A cause of great comment as I take her with me shopping. There is certainly something about a puppy to cause conversation .

It is good to be back in my village after a couple of weeks away . The roses have had their best but the rambler s linger on and my vine went berserk so up ladders pruning . Bournemouth turned out to be useful . The Local Government Association conference . I arrived in time for the speech by David Cameron , my MP . It was one of those unscripted things he has decided he does so well . And indeed he does. But what impressed was the central role he clearly expects from the third sector. He talks of " triple devolution " ; outdoing David Miliband who was only on double devolution ( I text Ed , his brother to warn him ) . he says just as he wants power devolved to citizens from the State and to local government from central , he expects to see local government devolving power to the Third Sector . He argues the sector is often closer to people than councils and that in tackling the problems of what he describes as " breakdown Britain we need the third sector. It is clearly not a throw away line.the usual couple of paras on the saintly voluntary sector. And think it is great he makes this point to a hall full of Councillors. interestingly , in comparison with Hazel he talks much more on the sector than she does . And yet Hazel is a committed supporter of the role of the Sector.

Hazel speaks later . She is great , so dynamic and optimistic.I'm sitting near the front which may have been a mistake . Hazel gets onto the subject of local government in the 80s. She warns of no return to the days of Lambeth and Liverpool !! The people on the platform , who have spotted me ( former Lambeth Councillor of note and distinction) find this highly amusing.Sir Jeremy Beecham , that doyen of the councils , suggests afterwards I should have stood up and taken a bow. i gently remonstrate with Hazel afterwards . And we talk about the days of Council's with foreign policies . We were particularly keen on Nicaragua and she said Salford was too; she was a councillor there at the time . But I trumped her because I went on an official visit on behalf of the residents of Lambeth . The concerns of the peoples of Nicaragua and Lambeth were clearly greatly linked and it was good to visit ot bring them greetings of solidarity from my Clapham electors .The beach on the beautiful Corn Island , just off the Cari been coast of Nicaragua was a particularly special place for solidarity.

But good news on the acevo front comes via my Blackberry . Jack Straw has agreed to our proposal to set up an acevo-MoJ taskforce to look at how to increase the role of the third sector in providing prison and probation services. Great !I get a breaking news email out to all my members. And talk to "Third Sector" . I also tell them that FBE is looking at how we can increase the amount of investments we make in this area . It is very low at present so we may provide a new product , up to 10m to support more contracting in offender management . FBE will join the taskforce. I now need to select the acevo members to sit on the task force. That will be fun ( or not , as who sits on what generally excites ! )

Hazel holds a reception later for the Beacon Award winners ( Sir Jeremy whispers in my ear during the speeches " the beacon flames are somewhat low at the moment " ) . The DCLG are hosting . You can tell times are bad . the " champagne" appears to be from the same source that Prince Charles puts into the tank of his Aston Martin . I leave mine to one side , happy on this occasion to coincide my diabetic need to cut alcohol consumption with my desire to avoid being poisoned .I make this point to the Permanent Secretary of DCLG , the splendid Peter Housden who I meet chatting to the CEO of Nottingham Council , the egregious Jane Todd.

i chat to David Rossington of DCLG who is in charge of writing of the White Paper on "Empowering Communities ". This is being launched on Wednesday at the Camberwell Settlement ( one of our members ) Bad timing as I cancel my dentist appointment . I was having a crown ( fitting ) and now no crown , just empowered communities.

But the most amusing interlude in Bournemouth is my chat with Eric Pickles MP ; the Tory Local Government spokesperson . I have known Eric for over 20 years . When I worked at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities he was Leader of Bradford and was on the employers side for pay negotiations . I have always greatly liked Eric . A great sense of humour and pricker of pomposity. he readily accepts my invitation to do a lunch with my acevo members.i introduce him to Keith Sonnett from Unison .. he also wants to meet up with Eric . Now that is a sign of the times.

But now it is back to Sparkles .

Thursday 3 July 2008

James and I

Once upon a time I went on. A Duke of Edinburgh leadership programme. This was in the last century. And there I met one John Oliver, a Civil Servant, but none the worst for that. Now he works for the wonderful James Purnell; his PPS no less. And yesterday he sends me a photo of said wonderful man waving bag. And what looks like a stalker in the background. Oh yes he has identified stalker as me

It is the ""Women Like Us Reception on 25 June 2008.

So I have 2 photos from that reception - one with me and the former Secretary of State, John Hutton, lurking in background and one of the current SoS with me lurking with intent!

I'm off to Bournemouth for the Local Government Conference. Cameron speaking this morning. Hazel blears later (she has invited me for drinks - so shall be asking what she is doing on the long delayed Community Anchors Fund!)

And then dinner with the benighted denizens of local government.. Don't I have all the fun. Will remind me of the old days when I used to negotiate their pay! Now they all earn small fortunes and run less services I fear municipal plonk awaits.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

virtual Jenny and foul play at work

Our first acevo Director's Group by Internet today. As we now have an acevo north Director based in Leeds we have organised an Internet link and Jenny joins us by computer screen . Works reasonably well . We thought about a special chair with red tasselled cushion on which we place the virtual Jenny ! It worked well for most of the meeting and then Jenny disappeared . Oh well, teething problems . But it makes sense and saves time and carbon footprint.

Lunch with Sam Coates , the Times Political Correspondent . He was just back from Glastonbury . He is young as you therefore gather . We were talking about the rising power of the third sector . He said that was obvious from Glastonbury with the stands and meetings of third sector organisations . Everyone very signed up to action on climate change etc but complete disinterest and distrust of the political process and distrust in politicians . This may not be altogether good but the reality is that there are now millions more people active in third sector bodies than involved in political parties or , often . voting . The 21st century is increasingly the century of the third sector . Whether the sector completely understands its power is sometimes a matter of doubt when you read the sector press and it's tedious obsession with internal navel gazing . Stuck in a narrow sector ghetto when there is a wide world to conquer .Brilliant example of this in today's "Third Sector" magazine which headlines on more charity commission investigations being published (wow, hold the front page ! ) and largely ignores the major implications of the recent Darzi Review which heralds a vastly increased role for the sector and a big expansion of service delivery . Good job I'd already alerted my members to how big this is.

I have such a fun lunch with Sam ; a mixture of gossip , reminiscence ( that was me reliving past triumphs )and political debate , that I overstay and am late for a planning meeting with my Chair and leading members to plan a day we are having with the senior civil service .

And then it is home . 3rd night in this week . Shock , horror .In time for the Archers and Corrie. But before I leave my Deputy Dr Kyle announces he is off to a Gallery Opening and then onto dinner at the Wolseley . And he having spent Monday evening at a dinner with the former American Ambassador and a top aide to George W. Bush .Shurly shome mistake ? I suspect foul play . Has he been lurking around my office intercepting the mail and stealing my best invitations ? I must call in MI5.

But the day is great . My nephew Alexander ,star of University Challenge and poet has got a First .I knew he would ! Brilliant Alex. Now for his application to All Souls. I can see the first Bubb Vice Chancellor .Or Master of Balliol. And my niece Miranda continues to revolutionise the store cupboard . Coming across past tracts by her Uncle . Scheduled for the tip to make room . Ah well ;

" But at my back I always hear ,
Time's winged chariot hurrying near "

( Andrew Marvell )

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Boris and Jack

Boris Johnston . Love him or hate him ? I heard him speak tonight and was impressed . I was at City Hall for a celebration with the Jack Petchey Foundation . They have just given away £50 million and Boris was there to cut a rather ostentatious cake in the shape of the words £50m alongside Jack Petchey . A range of acevo members there as well ;including my Chair John Low , David Emerson of the Association of Charitable Foundations ( in a splendid Duchamp tie; regret ably I had removed mine in the fierce heat ) and the charismatic Nick Wilkie of London Youth .And of course Andrew Billington who is the CEO of the Foundation and a long time acevo member.

The view from what is quaintly called the London sitting room , in other words the top of the City Hall , is marvellous . You get a complete 360 degree panorama. Well done Ken, I thought seditiously. And my niece Miranda came with me on her work experience week . I had introduced her to Jack Straw earlier . He had wanted to know what her career plans were . In the absence of a convincing answer from Miranda I suggested " Third Sector Leader " . It will soon be the only career of note !

I had come to the celebration from the Ministry of Justice where I had led a delegation of my members who work in offender management services to see Jack Straw , and his Minister of State David Hanson . Acevo gave very strong backing to the passage of the recent Offender Management Bill which we thought would open up access to more provision of client facing services to the third sector. We have been sorely disappointed . The forces of conservatism in the system have really derailed progress. What in particular has got up our nose was the covert way in which the 10% target was quietly dropped ( or was it ? ) . This was a target set 2 years ago to ensure that provision of service delivery started to move out of the hands of the state into the third and private sectors . They had got as far as achieving 5.5% but then rather than push for more officials decided to drop the target in place of a highly ill defined " best value " regime . But it became clear there is confusion about whether they had indeed dropped it at all . Or what best value might be and who decides that !

I make a very strong plea to Jack to keep the target as this may be the only way to force change . It may well be compatible with changes to commissioning along a best value line but without the stick of the target I just don't believe the forces of reaction that seem entrenched in the probation and prison service will be vanquished.

I say that though acevo will always strongly criticise back sliding and incorrect decisions by Government as a CEO body our job is to work with them to put things right. So I suggest that we establish a joint task force between acevo , on behalf of the sector , and the MoJ to look at the barriers against us in service provision, what we can do to remove them and whether to keep the Target and how that might work with a best value regime. Jack says they will think about this and discuss internally , but he promised he would let me know within 24 hours .We have quite a discussion on the target issue and I suspect Jack does see the arguments on this although they seem keen on a best value approach I wonder if the 2 are incompatible. That does sound hopeful . Members working in rehabilitation , in mental health and jobs and addiction agencies have so much to offer . One of my members says to Jack they had such high hopes of change and they have just so much to offer it is so frustrating we can't move forward . It is so clear we have a joint agenda here . Jack agrees.

I also suggest that there is a role here for Futurebuilders . Having talked to Jonathan,my FBE Chief Executive, we agree the take up of investment from offender management charities is abysmally low and we should work with the MoJ to drive up applications and I offer that we will look at how to invest to support this.If they establish a task force FBE will get involved to see what support could be offered.

So we shall see .

Our joint agenda is tackling crime and the causes of crime. Locking people up is not the answer in the long term . The John Smith Institute reckons that on current projections the prison population will rise from 65,000 to 93,000 in 2010. The damage is well rehearsed

* a third of prisoners lose their house whilst in prison.
* two - thirds lose their job
* two-fifths lose contact with their family

And which organisations are best placed to tackle these multiple issues ?

My dinner date from SERCO blows me out so I get home nice and early and sit in the window with a cup of tea listening to the Archers. A good day . A blow struck for the sector and my members.

Forces for Good!

Jackie Ballard, the Chief Executive of the RNID recommended I read a new book on third sector management "Forces for Good". An American tome (but none the worst for that) it looks at the experience of some of the top American non profits and what makes them successful. They look at the "myths" of non profit management and what they believe are the top 6 practices of the best.

I have just written a book review of this for acevo's network, our leadership journal. We are relaunching the Journal in a few weeks time so I had better not jump the gun or Agnes, the Editor, will have my guts for framing . But I thought it worth making one observation. It argues that the best non profits see business as powerful partners, not as wicked enemies and they also work with government in advocating policy change as well as often delivering services.

I believe this is true of the best third sector organisations in the UK too. I saw Victor Adebowale recently at the Social Care reception. He is an unashamed advocate of service delivery and partnership with Government. Turning Point do great work at the margins of society amongst our young people. The vast majority of his money is from contracts with the State. Yet he is a tireless advocate of a radical approach to young people's issues. This is true of so many of acevo's members. Martin Narey of Barnardo's or Clare Tickell of NCH are other examples. They work with Government and yet argue for change and against reactionary tendencies in government. But it is reasoned and evidenced argument, not mindless oppositionalism .

It is suggested that taking money from the State damages our independence. Those who argue this point do so from a position of emotion not fact. They produce no evidence to support the contention yet, on the contrary, the fact that so many of our organisations do now deliver at the front line gives us unparalleled access and knowledge to influence and to change policy from the inside. it is worrying that sometimes voices in the sector, and you see this so often in the letter pages of Third Sector, seek to deny the legitimacy of elected Government. Whatever the faults of our elected democracy local councillors and government are not enemies of Satan and have a right to determine the way we are governed. We, on our part, should be using our skill and knowledge to influence and guide that process by working with the State. Comments like "supping with the devil" when taking money from Government are an insult to the democratic foundations of our country and those making them should observe the role of civil society in Burma or Zimbabwe, for example.

acevo has always taken the view that as the Chief Executive representative body we work with an elected Government, of whatever complexion, to further the role of the Third Sector. Criticise where necessary. And loudly when needed (as I have done). We also talk to the Opposition to help ensure any of their policies will be evidence based and we will continue to work closely with the senior civil service and with Ministers to advance the Sector.

My niece Miranda is at acevo for a week on work experience from her school in South London. It is one of the schools run by the Independent Day Care Trust whose CEO is an acevo member. Miranda is put to work sorting the Store cupboard amongst other major duties but it is not all fun as I take her with me to a Sue Ryder Care reception in the House of Commons. Acevo gets a name check at the reception as they mention the vital importance of Full Cost Recovery and in particular to the recently published Full Cost Planner we launched to help third sector bodies plan their cost basis in strategic terms. Tomorrow she will be coming with me to a meeting with Jack Straw and then a reception with Boris at the London Mayor's HQ - if Store duties permit! And who knows perhaps Miranda is a future third Sector Leader. Leading Forces for Good!