Friday 22 January 2010

Pernicous Preaching

Deeply irritating day when my Head of Comms , the talented Ms McKeown points out an article in The Times written by Andy Benson , of the improbably named " National Coalition for Independent Action". ( Quite who is in this organisation is unclear or indeed who on earth it represents )

Thoroughly furious at the specious and unwarranted attacks in this, but I calm do I know that Mr Benson has not been away in a Monastery for the last year and unable to read papers or listen to newscasts , thus out of touch with what goes on in our great sector? He writes that , " most of the representative groups "( he means acevo ,navca , ncvo etc ) " have money from the Office of the Third sector so they don't criticise. When something bad happens they say , " can we afford open conflict with government."

Er , pardon ? I guess Mr Benson you were deep in your Breviary on the 24th November when the Times published a headline story on the Burnham preferred supplier u-turn and my comments denouncing this move in no uncertain terms . Perhaps he missed the subsequent case brought against the implementation of this policy to the DH Competition Panel by acevo.

The Abbot must have cleared the copy of The Times of December 29th which ran a front page story on the DH trying to consolidate the accounts of Hospital charities into the NHS accounts . I attacked this attempt to undermine their independence , and was forthright in various newscasts m including BBC News on this attempt to nationalise charity assets . So Mr Benson , note the strong defence of Independence by acevo and how when its threatened we are upfront with our criticism . Where were you on this issue Mr Benson , or do you just write about independence, as opposed to doing anything about it? Or , being charitable , perhaps you forgot to post your letter to Mr Burnham when you were at your Devotions ?

And we have just had clarification from DH that ,following acevo's trenchant critique and comments they are going to put the whole idea on hold for further discussion and review of the governance of the charities. So acevo not only sticks up for independence when it matters but does something about it . And it is worth pointing out that acevo recieves a strategic grant directly from DH for work we do with the Department . It does not , has not and will not ,confine our right to criticise.

Perhaps Mr Benson has no access to the Internet or he would have read my Blog . Not that I'm suggesting its compulasory ! So not seen the somewhat forceful comments on various government iniquities ; wimpishness on Banks for example , or discourtesy from Chancellors and failure to act on gift aid" .

The idea that acevo stays silent on issues that affect its membership is laughable. Bubb silent? Hardly!

The article attacks contracting for service delivery , indeed apparently they are " sapping the life out of the voluntary sector ". Preposterous. What contracts are doing is enabling thousands of charities to deliver much needed services to our citizens and communities . The meals on wheals service of the WRVS , providing care and supp rot for lonely and vulnerable [people in every locality) . The work of the great disability charities , providing help and support , training and jobs to thousands , the big addiction charities working to save lives. Marie Curie and Macmillan nurses providing succour and comfort to the dying. Crisis providing shelter for the homeless . Turning Point working with deeply vulnerable young people the county over ( Victor Adebowale hardly a shrinking violet when it comes to Government policy ). The Children's Society supporting thousands of children but publishing a survey deeply critical of Government . Barnadoes working with difficult youth and Martin Narey forthright denunciation of Government policy on treatment of the children of asylum seekers. Yes , there are flaws in contracts , and acevo has done a superb job working with Government to improve and develop better commissioning . I'm very proud of the work acevo members do with contracts to deliver public services. Strangly Mr Benson does not once mention the needs of beneficiaries in his theological rant on the independence of the sector.

Then , shudder me timbers , the extraordinary claim that " when we talk to people in charities 95% agree with our views". Amazing . What survey was that exactly ? Was that the one you did on your annual Christmas visit to the Dog and Duck , carried out on an entirely random sample at closing time . Or a random sample atop the 88 bus?

He ends by praising community organisations as a " national treasure " so at least something is right in this diatribe . But so too are the great national charities fulfilling their historic role to bring support and help to their beneficiaries . They want to see more contracting with the sector . And acevo . as their representative body , will continue to push for that .

And I shall continue to work with Government to promote better services , give praise where it is due and slap wrists when they need correction . We believe in kicking arse where that is neexded but only to effect change . Generalised whinging , unsupported by evidence but motivated by bile has no place in the third sector . So Mr Benson , confine your preaching . It is not wanted here.

I can't remember my Dante's Purgatorio , but is there a place in purgatory for scribblers of pernicous tales? Anyway , a trip to your confessor . I wont dare suggest the penance ,but a reading of the entire last 9 years collected works of Bubb might be in order !


Craig Dearden-Phillips said...

Brother Benson responded in similar fashion last year to a piece I did in Third Sector. His association sounds like a Charlie Whelan front operation and I am not sure Brother Benson himself actually exists beyond the printed word. Never been seen, apparently.

Anonymous said...

It is disappointing to see such verbal bullying of the individual here - by all means attack the message but why feel the need to attack the man?
Sadly this seems to sum up your true colours - limited social skills and leadership, and increasingly out of step with how society should behave towards others - with a degree of respect.

Also disappointed to see another 'leader' support you in your bullying (of what, given the pictures available, seems to be a fairly senior citizen - is this your style also?).