Tuesday 30 November 2010

FEBEA, Public Health and Snow !

In a freezing, snowy Brussels for a meeting of the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks. I'm here to discuss ways in which the EU can promote and develop social finance and loans for third sector organisations.

We are investigating the potential for a European taskforce on social finance so I meet with the heads of some of Europe's top social banks and co-operatives at lunch time for a chat to see what is possible.

And, most important, it's off to see the Chef de Cabinet of the European President of the EU. That proves to be most useful. Indeed important to the development of the taskforce. The fact that I knew Richard Corbett at Oxford, naturally, does help I'm sure.... but I must say no more!

The EU is a strange bureaucratic institution. The buildings exude a sort of depressing public sector style - they have clearly been designed by committees. What they need is a strong does of Euro third sector. Sweep way the cobwebs and let in the fresh air of life as it really is.

And yet this is the bureaucracy we need to use to our advantage. The mistake that many Brits make is to think it's all too tedious and un Anglo-Saxon so we do not engage. And so lose out. Hence the glaring failure of so much of the UK's third sector to access funds (though the Eurocrats do make that somewhat difficult!).

And now it's snowy London. How fantastic to pull back the curtains this morning to see the snow falling and the pristine whiteness of my garden (prior to Hound jumping all over it - she likes the snow too!).

I decided on my brightest Duchamp tie for today. The one with in your face sunflowers so I cheer everyone up at work!

I was off to a session with Stephen Dorrell MP, the Chair of the Health Select Committee, together with the CBI to talk about our work on private-third sector partnerships. A good meeting as we ruminated on whether the Government reforms will open up the NHS to more innovation and a bigger role for the third sector and independent providers.

A propitious day to talk health as the White Paper on Public Health is published. I believe the move to Local Government is potentially good. But it will depend entirely on how Councils react. As they seem busy on cutting support for the third sector the portents are not good. It is absurd to think you can develop good public health policies without the partnership of the third sector. Our advocacy and advice role, as well as the provider role, must underpin good public health programmes. And the third sector must play a major role in the health and well being boards! And will we? I expect we will see a range of Councils forgetting to have anyone from the sector involved. We shall see. But Bubb is watching.

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