How fabulous to hear H M The Queen talking about us in The Speech from the Throne. Don't think I've heard that before! She said,
“the role of social enterprises, charities and co-operatives in our public services will be enhanced.”
Measures to give a bigger role to sector organisations in the running of public services will be introduced by the autumn, the Government has promised.
Announcing the Conservative-Liberal Government's first legislative programme, supplementary information from No: 10 said that radical reform of public services was needed and third sector organisations were one means by which to improve outcomes and reduce the national debt. Correct!
Primary legislation is not expected, but No: 10 said that public services markets would, in appropriate areas, be opened up to allow third sector organisations to bid to run public services.
But of course in education the expansion of academies and plans for Free Schools, some run by Charities, is good news for many of my education members, like Neil McIntosh who runs CfBT and plans to expand.
And no more, "preferred provider" nonsense! Not that I'm crowing. That would be inelegant....
"Barriers to involvement will be identified and measures will be implemented, "the statement said. Roll it on !
The Government also pledged to give public sector workers the right to form employee-owned co-operatives and bid to run the services they deliver.
It is said early measures, which are not yet specified, would be in place by the autumn.
Good. What ACEVO has argued for consistently for a decade. Now we have to see how it will be implemented, against a background where many local councils and health authorities are looking at major cutbacks. Our commissioning process needs radical reform and we are committed to working with Government to do this. It was recognised at our Tory Summit, by the many Tories there who are now in power, that this was a priority. And I know in particular that Francis Maude understands the challenge and has a clear vision on where changes are needed. Will he be able to deliver?
Our "Big Offer" of cost effective service delivery is with Osborne. We await the opportunity to meet with HMT to talk the "HOW".
We have to be engaged in the process of reform. Making sure it works for us. Us at the heart of plans. But we will also have to protect our members who will also face the prospects of the spending cuts. There is a real problem of time on this. Austerity measures now, reform of public service delivery later.
And finally, back to our very own Lambeth third sector. There is now a rather strong contingent of Lambeth TS folk and we had dinner at the home of Matthew Thompson (Czar of all that is recyclable in London; I was careful not to leave any possessions lying around when I visited. He would have had them in the recycle bin in a flash). And with us were a groupie mass of TS folk; Time Bank, Leonard Cheshire and my very own Seb! Wonderful gossip. Shocking dissections of TS colleagues who have not yet learnt the correct path.
And now I am in Kingham (just up the road from Charlbury but still in the constituency of The Prime minister) at the Adventure Capital Fund Awayday. This is the charity I Chair and which is part of the Social Investment Business. It loans to community enterprise. Highly successful, it has grown many grass route community organisations. Ones that have ambition, dynamism and drive and want to grow. Ones that are not stuck in a grant trap dependent on beneficent local councils (and they will be thin on the ground now!).
Cracking dessert wine too!
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