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!


Anonymous said...

Bubb=equals the Aldi Simon Hoggart.

Robert said...

It's pathetic people like you that make cripples like me puke.

Anonymous said...

You haven't got a clue Bubb. You're an ignorant idiot. I hope you're pleased with yourself that you are helping to create a thoroughly ugly, uncaring, nasty, unsympathetic Britain. Shame on you. I hope you can sleep at night thinking about the many vulnerable people who WILL be so distressed and worried about welfare reform that they commit suicide. Wow, that's something to be so proud of.

Anonymous said...

You can stay in the same room as Mr Fraud (sic) and Purnell, and not fall about laughing at their incompetance?

Mr Fraud (sic) especially, who knows less about the benefits system than your average claimaint. Which rubs of badly on the man that hired him, Purnell.

You need to do your homework, and realise the comments about suicides and welfare reform are more serious than you think.

Carry on with the name dropping (even though it is boring, and makes you appear full of yourself) and blissful ignorance of the real situation, and Im sure you will stay happy.

Unfortunately many people have to live in the real world, and suffer from fools like purnell and fraud (sic) and even people like you, who do not understand what ramifications the welfare reforms actually have.

Think long, think hard, but start thinking please.