Wednesday 13 May 2009

Theresa May and the Social Enterprise Summit

Theresa May MP really does shoes well! When she came to our ACEVO brainstorm with Francis Maude MP recently she had splendid bright red ones. Yesterday we held a breakfast meeting with her and key members at ACEVO'S offices. She was in more sombre black mode yesterday, but equally as elegant.

I must admit to liking her a lot. Real engagement with members and a commitment to radical reforms in DWP to raise the delivery role of the third sector. She has said she is particularly interested in how to encourage third sector consortia to bid big scale. And she is ably supported by the admirable David Freud, soon to be enobled and join the Conservative Front Bench.

Its nostalgia day for me. ACEVO has its first trade union General Secretary join as a member....(Michael Leahy OBE). He is the General Secretary of Community. We will be doing some work with them as they are keen to develop their links with the third sector. They have an entirely sensible and pragmatic approach to service delivery by the third sector. They believe it is good and helpful to people in our communites. I so wish the rest of the TUC would get to grips with this issue and stop trying to pretend we are just the same as the private sector. But perhaps this signals the start of a change in attitudes on that. There is a great article about this in The Guardian today. To read the article click here. My "coming and going" Deputy is to be credited for this triumph.

But the key event was the Social Enterprise Summit - with no less than five Cabinet Ministers in attendance. A good Summit though there was perhaps a little to much assertion rather than evidence to support claims being made for social enterprise. We need to be careful not to over assert and to makes claims that cannot be evidenced. Though it is clear that the sector can make a great claim to be part of the drive for recovery and a recession highlights the need for third sector action to deliver new jobs. I used the opportunity to argue again for the establishment of a Social Investment Bank and the introduction of a Community Reinvestment Act to ensure banks are forced to invest in local communities. Later on at a dinner with Prof Lester Salamon he says that the Act has made a significant difference, with banks securing much better returns from community loans than heir mainstream investments. And the argument of the right wing Republicans - sadly parroted by some misguided folk here - that this sub prime lending helped the financial collapse is undermined by the fact that 85% of the toxic debt was made by banks who were not compliant with the CRA requirements.

Before he left the Summit Peter Mandleson commented on how various people in the room represented 35 years of his life.... starting with me who he knew at Oxford, and taking in people like Alan Cave who he knew at the TUC (now a senior civil servant in DWP! ) and Ian Tuckett of Coin St who he knew when he was on Lambeth Council!

No comments: