Wednesday 16 June 2010

Lottery, Summits and cuts

A rather good meeting with the Lottery Minister, John Penrose MP, on Monday. Stuart, Kevin and I presented a good, effective united front. Despite all the jibes about how we don't work together, when the chips are down we certainly do.

It was one of those meetings where I became increasingly alarmed that we were all on the same page. I began to wonder if we were asking for enough! James was clear that in changing the share allocation amongst the lottery bodies he did not want to see less going to the third sector. There was agreement we had to have transparency from all the lottery distributors on how much they put into our sector; so heritage, arts and sports need to ensure funding streams put a priority on the sector. In particular we don't see all the money going into "grands projets".

Stuart, in his newly benighted self, was on particularly good form! Stuart had treated us to lunch at The Liberal Club. On the way out he pointed out a statue of Gladstone on which were inscribed words about the difference between high minded Liberals and wicked grasping Tories. I'm surprised they haven't had the stone masons in to remove this subversive stuff!

Dinner with my last Chair, John Low, was a real delight. Good to swap tales of sector intrigue and gossip, as well, of course, high minded discussion of Big Society, as you do these days!

An early start on Tuesday (how I hate breakfast meetings!). Off to the Canal for our Sector Summit. I was hoping for a glass of Bucks Fizz to start off in celebrating the Knighthood? But no. Not very good coffee.

A good purposeful discussion. A clear agreement that we need to be united around the essentials as we move forward. I used my analogy about the piece of string and balloons and Stuart talked about his two horses (not necessarily of the apocalypse!). One horse we ride is supporting the principle of Big Society and our sector role in delivering that and, the other, is protecting our members as they face cuts.

I made a particular plea to some colleagues to avoid senseless and divisive arguments on small versus large and how small is always better (and so how those large charities are really not to be used). Such behaviour at a time we all face difficulty would be a disgrace, and ultimately self defeating.

And there was a depressing story on "Today" this morning. Apparently the BBC survey of Councils has discovered that most Councils are planning huge cuts; and a particular area for cuts will be in social care; elderly, disability and mental health will suffer.

This is appalling news. It is our sector increasingly that delivers those vital services. And, of course, that is the key. Councils seem to be acting true to form. Rather than taking the chance to have a fundamental review of how they deliver services and see how restructuring and using our sector to deliver cost effective services can help, they are pulling their wagons around the laager. Protecting their own staff and services and sacrificing others. A selfish and stupid response to cuts.


Still, I am at The Local Government Association tonight - to a congratulatory reception marking my old Chair Jeremy Beecham's elevation to the Peerage. Certain Local Government leaders will be getting the benefit of my views on this matter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It might have been an even better meeting if you'd got John Penrose's name right...