Friday 22 January 2010

Recession Summit and Tory Summit

It's Thursday and the quarterly Recession Summit at NCVO. As it's on the recession I put on my brightest tie (Duchamp naturally), and when I say bright we are talking in your face orange sunflowers. I notice Mr Lottery, the great Peter Wanless, is also in a Duchamp tie, but his is elegant and understated as befits a former senior civil servant!

The tie was to emphasise my view that the future is bright for our sector. The decade ahead will see growth and expansion , even against cuts and gloom.

I make a contribution on public services and our growing delivery role. I suggest that we will see a dramatic increase in delivery through third sector organisations and therefore a major growth of the sector.

But to be effective we need:

  • access to investment funds
  • a Social Investment bank
  • more collaborative ventures and consortia
  • more partnerships- both with each other and with the private sector
  • capacity building and infrastructure development
  • asset transfers from the State
  • a Community Reinvestment Act to mobilise commercial finance.
I said the evidence of the Futurebuilders Fund is that demand rose rapidly last year and loans are rising significantly.

I also said it poses challenges for the sector. Do we "gear up or whinge up". Do we rise to challenges through partnerships and alliances and consortia working.

Stuart made the interesting point that whilst agreeing delivery will increase, will there be more relabeling, rather than sector delivery i.e as happened in local government leisure facilities being effectively rebranded as social enterprises.

There was also discussion on how the recession had seen a big rise in volunteering and the challenge is finding strong and meaningful volunteering opportunities to meet that demand.

John Low from CAF reports interestingly that they have had some large philanthropic donations out of recent Bonuses. That's an excellent sign. Though I'm still waiting on the news from the British Bankers Association on their advice to all bonus getters to GIVE.

And we ended with a salutary reminder from Belinda Pratten at NCVO that if Government sorted irrecoverable VAT and Gift Aid that would bring in an extra £1.25 billion to the sector. Now that's an agenda for change. And Yes we can!

One of the most useful things about these Summits, and this was the third, is the analysis that Karl Wilding provides on how the recession is impacting. Evidence of a lag but also a sector coping and rising to challenges. It was ever thus.

Took a call from Nick Hurd MP about our upcoming Tory Summit and I spent the afternoon in a teleconference meeting with colleagues in the Community Alliance, NACVA, NCVO etc on the upcoming Tory Summit ACEVO are organising. A great discussion; we agree fantastic opportunity for us all to row together. It's great for the sector to showcase the potential of our growing service delivery - both to benefit our clients and to provide cost effective solutions for public spending. We will put the emphasis on practitioners, on the CEOs who do the delivery so know the potential and the challenge.

Then off to a roundtable at Tribal, our strategic partner, under the intriguing title of "Learning from Local Government". Yes, I know but it was fascinating. Not only did I have the pleasure of meeting David Fielding but his Director of Research, David Welsh, and his other colleagues Barry Honah, a finance guru, and his Chief Executive, Julie Towers. Amongst others attending were Helen Bailey HMT, David Henshaw, NHS Northwest, Lorraine Langham, OFSTED and Barbara Moorehouse, Department of Transport. Helen Bailey is one of HMT top officials there so a chance to talk turkey on cuts. Then as a reward it was onto the Charlotte St Hotel for dinner. I had lamb shank so I could take the bone back for the Hound. In fact I took my neighbour's bone too. The wine was pleasant but no champagne. Times are hard!

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