Tuesday 29 December 2009

Combating DH charity asset grab and a Christmas reprise

So its over for another year . My turkey remains are already a glorious soup . The presents put to use ( or not as the case may be ). Sparkles appreciated her Christmas stocking...she chewed it to pieces. I have been going through my pile of cards . I'm glad to say people do still send cards . I deplore those rather pathetic email Christmas greetings .

And I have had some splendid cards . Top prizes go to Barbara Follett MP for a card designed by one of her Stevenage constituents , Simon Gillespie of Multiple Sclerosis for a gorgeous photo of frosted berries , Alun Michael MP whose used a photo he had taken of " Mandela's Gold" , a variety of the bird of paradise flower , and Gordon and Sarah whose card was a superb photo of a Downing St Christmas tree decoration photographed on holly at Kew Gardens . Proceeds from the Downing St card sales go to WaterAid . This marvellous charity is also one I support. It is run by the great Barbabra Frost , acevo member and my former Vice Chair. ( And as you are asking the other charities I support personally each month they are : Christian Aid , Action Aid , VSO , my local Churches and my old Oxford college naturally . )

The booby prize for the worst Christmas greeting goes to the Third Sector Research Centre , who sent me an email wishing me a " Happy Holiday" as though I were about to pack my bags for a jolly week in Alicante . They followed it up with a postcard with a supposed festive scene of their office in the snow emblazoned with the words TSRC. This ridiculous 60s hippy like concern to be PC and pretend we are not actually celebrating the Festival of the Nativity of Christ is actually quite offensive . An end to all this " seasons greetings " nonsense I say! I wonder if they wander around wishing Muslims a " happy holiday "when its Ramadan?

But it is back to work with a vengeance . The Times today brilliantly exposes the attempted grab of hospital charity assets by the DH. I have blogged on this and am delighted it is now being exposed more widely as a result of an intervention by Jenny Wilmot MP , the Lib Dem third sector spoke person . The DH want all NHS hospitals to account for the assets of their hospital charity in the main hospital budgets and accounts . This would , as the Charity Commission have pointed out , " can be viewed as tantamount to a form of nationalisation of the gifts and donations of the public". As I said in my comment printed in the Times story it would be just too tempting for any government to look at those combined balance sheets and tell hospitals they can use them to pay for things that previously would have been bought by the NHS itself . This could make it easier for future governments to make cuts and we would find that charity donations are substituting for state funding . A slippery path . And this will simply undermine trust in the work of the many great hospital charities. I want the Charity Commission to be robust and stop this , just as they did in 1948 when the then Government tried to nationalise the assets of the 1000 charity hospitals . Of course Andy Burnham could tell his Department not to implement this accounting changes . He needs to do this now; he cannot afford to further alienate the third sector after his disastrous policy u-turn on preferred supplier . So go on Andy , make my New Year a happy one!

It was ironic that as I went into St Thomas' this morning for a check up on my eyes ( very good progress , Thank God ) I walked past the statue of King Edward VI who endowed the hospital in 1553 along with a large gift from his Treasurer . The fantastic fundraising of the Guys and Tommies charity , building on centuries of public donations and legacies have enabled many pioneering works like the development of a centre of excellence in foetal health and the new Evalina children's hospital. ; works that the DH had ruled were not priorities and would not fund.they also do much needed work in supporting the health needs of the local community in South London . I don't want this major asset swallowed up in the hospital accounts and then some future Secretary of State telling Tommies they have loads of money so we will cut your budget and use it elsewhere.

I'm asked onto Radio 5 live for an interview and then do a piece for BBC Radio 4 , my favourite news station. I get several emails from members saying well done . one , headed " theft" asks me to ensure acevo "campaigns against avaricious plans by government to lay their hands on charitable money". We shall . I'm proud that acevo is there to speak out on behalf of our sector when that is needed. It may be the Christmas break but we are ever vigilant on behalf of our members.

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