Monday 25 January 2010

No 10 and Windsor Castle

I hate breakfast meetings. Nasty Americanism; but when it's at No: 10 with the PM and Lord Mandelson somehow you need to be there.

It was the launch of the Young Persons Guarantee and a clutch of other initiatives to support the Backing Young Britain campaign, so a range of employers as well as me,Clare Dove from Social Enterprise and Tony Hawkhead from Groundwork (both ACEVO members naturally).

I made the point that the third sector is involved in 2 crucial ways:

One because we are major employers and we have given strong backing to the guarantee and, of course were crucially involved in establishing the Future jobs Fund, which was a brainchild of my superb Policy Head, the miraculous Michell. I paid tribute to the Government for the initiative (no one bothers to give thanks at these events I find).

But secondly the sector is concerned to promote social cohesion and prevent social exclusion. I said that many communities loose out in rising unemployment; particularly the disabled, people with mental health problems and older workers. I told the array of Government Ministers present they should be really radical and extend the jobs guarantee to all workers. I think there is a economic strong case for this as well. I saw a brief nod from the Employment Minister Jim knight MP.

Also some members are reporting that the emphasis on this campaign is distracting from work to support disabled people. Leonard Cheshire have produced some startling statistics;

They have found that disabled people faced greater discrimination at work with employers more likely to make them redundant during the economic crisis than non-disabled workers.

They also uncovered high levels of poverty among disabled people with dependent children in its survey Disability and the Downturn.

Fifty-two per cent of 1,253 respondents felt that they had experienced discrimination in the workplace in the past year - an increase of 11 per cent since 2007.

And 43 per cent of respondents also reported they had been turned down for a job because of their impairment - an increase of 7 per cent since 2008.

Most shocking of all was that three-quarters of all respondents with dependent children said that they were living below the poverty line.

Disabled people who are able to work are more likely to be in temporary, part-time and vulnerable employment, the charity revealed.

Currently, the number of disabled people on low pay is 10 per cent higher than non-disabled people.

This just emphasises the need for a wider guarantee.

I'd managed a brief word with the PM over the coffee, which was as well as he then left after his introduction, leaving Peter to take over(as no doubt he would rather like permanently!). And I quipped with Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, over the article in The Observer suggesting Cameron wants him for another five years. He looked amused - in a Mandarin sort of way!

Then it was a quick walk across Westminster Bridge to get the train to Windsor Castle; that has a certain ring about it eh! I'm there for two days for an "Annual Leadership Dialogue" organised under the auspices of St George's House, a Foundation set up by Prince Philip and the Canons of St George to promote leadership learning. This particular event is focusing on "governance, ethics and accountability". It's of great interest, not just in my executive role as a CEO, but also in my role as Chair of the Social Investment business, now responsible for managing a £450m portfolio. And I go from here to a meeting of the SIB Board where we are discussing governance and a move to establish a unitary board (non-execs and execs as in the commercial world). It also means moving from a current thirteen non execs to eight so the Chair's role will be interesting!

And good governance is at the heart of the job of any third sector CEO which is why ACEVO has such a key interest in governance reform.

One of the speakers is the former CEO of HBOS. Now that will be fascinating. Read my Blog tomorrow!

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