Spoke this morning at a conference on "Public Service Delivery Through Social Enterprise". ACEVO, the Social Investment Business and Social Enterprise London were partners in running this interesting conference looking at the opportunities for more delivery of public services. I spoke with Richard Litchfield, who is a Director with Eastside Consulting, but is the interim Chief Executive of 3SC. This is an interesting consortium that has been established with the support of the Social Investment Business and is a consortia involving some 250 third sector organisations who are delivering a big contract under The Future Jobs Fund. The aim of 3SC is to bid for large scale prime contractor tenders in competition with the big private sector companies. It is a fascinating development and I suspect has real potential for ensuring that our sector can scale up and take on the big private companies who usually take prime contractor contracts in the employment and welfare markets in particular.
One of the most interesting markets for the sector over the next decade will be prisons and probation. On Monday, we held an ACEVO Away Day with our leading members from the prison and probation side with all of the regional Offender Management Directors and the Head of the Offender Management Service. It was great to get the key commissioners and sector leaders together to talk through how we can a develop services that meet the need to reduce crime and rehabilitate prisoners. These sorts of meetings are particularly valuable in exposing commissioners to the range, variety and value of what the third sector can offer. We had various presentations about the work of third sector organisations and it was particularly telling when Rob Owen, who runs The St Giles Trust, said that their intensive one-to-one work with offenders saves the Treasury £2.5m per person each year. Their work is based around the simple concept of peer learning. Their programmes are all run by ex-offenders who are able to talk to people coming out of prison on their terms. They meet prisoners at the prison gate and then interim support them through the difficult process of getting back into life outside the prison.
And I immodestly pass on the comment from one of our members attending the day who suggested that really we should call ourselves "ACHEVO" as apposed to ACEVO because we are an organisation that gets things done.
Tonight it's off to the launch of the ACEVO Pay Survey at The Caledonian Club. (Jokes about pay restraint and Scots not allowed). ACEVO has been conducting a pay survey amongst its members for over 15 years. It's a valuable source of information about the pay, conditions and benefits that Chief Executives get in our sector. Its often used by organisations as a bench marking guide when they set their own Chief Executive salaries. This year it shows that the stress and strain on the Chief Executive has grown as a result of the recession and also that 28% of our Chief Executives have had their salaries frozen in the past year. To purchase a copy of the Survey click here.
This shows admirable restraint on the part of members and contrasts rather sharply with the behaviour of those in the commercial sector, who clearly feel that a mere recession should not interfere with their increasing salary, perks and bonuses. How sickening to hear the news last night that Goldman Sachs may be paying a bonus of £0.5m to each of their employees.
However, the point I shall make at the launch is that whilst clearly we need to exercise restraint in the current circumstances it is important not to lose sight of the need for proper professional rates of pay in our sector. The labourer is worthy of their hire. Our salaries must remain competitive and set at a level that properly recognises the talent and the effort required in a Chief Executive job. I would certainly not want to see a continuation of frozen salaries over any lengthy period.
We have to recognise the down side of CVOs getting stuck into public service delivery. It means that a lot of people who could be doing good community development work (facing the community and working for them)end up doing 'good work for the state - delivering public services. This is not community development. At the community engagement strategy workshop in Leeds recently the practitioners forum was full of frustration at delivering public services that did not reflect local needs and priorities.
The solution to this is not smarter commissioning by the state. It is establishing a culture where community development workers face the community rather than the funder.
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