An interesting meeting yesterday morning with fellow Knight, Ronnie Cohen, to talk about the new Big Society Bank. This is going to be an exciting venture, full of potential and possibilities for our sector. A world leader. We are on our way to establishing a real market in social investment in the UK.
If we are to grow the sector's role in service delivery we need access to capital. If Government move contracts to payment by results (which I believe can be beneficial for charities) then cash flow and capital become rather crucial; if not show stoppers.
So my views were; let's get this cracking quickly, let's not mess around too much, at least initially, with fancy new ideas for social finance but get loans out through the various intermediary bodies there are in our sector.
I had thought appearing on The Moral Maze on charity and Government roles would be somewhat easier than it was. I faced a gruelling quiz by feisty Clare Fox, of the Institute of Ideas, about the wicked State and how charities have become grovelling stooges of such (I think that was the gist of the points). Melanie Philips, by contrast, was more sympathetic though catching me out by asking me to define charity and not mentioning altruism. Oh dear. It was a good point and I gave her a less than satisfactory answer and so spent my journey back home kicking myself!
And as I got stuck in I'm afraid I was starting to bang the table to emphasise my points. Naughty me. The producer had to motion me to stop so I put my hands to my side. When I listened on iPlayer later I was rather happier with my performance. I sounded more coherent than I had thought.
It was somewhat of a media day yesterday as I also did an interview for ITV's Tonight programme (due out on March 17th 19:30). This is on cuts, though I did try to put this in perspective in terms of recent speeches and the article by David Cameron on how the sector will be key to reforming public services.
And in the meantime my Director of Strategy, the universally regarded and wonderful Seb Elsworth, has been putting together the ACEVO bid to Cabinet Office for our strategic grant for the next three years. I have been making helpful (or unhelpful) CEO type contributions! We are making a partnership bid and it has some exciting aspects, as well as demonstrating how we work with other umbrella bodies. Due in Friday I'm saying no more! The bid will underpin the work we do across Government and with OCS and build on the highly regarded work of ACEVO's policy team (perhaps one of the strongest teams in the sector I would argue). Attempts to prize more information from us by the sector media will be resisted!
I'm afraid this listener/blog reader doesn't take the same view of your participation in the programme. I think it was a major blunder to be 'caught out' in the way you were - failing to mention altruism betrays a business like approach that plays into the hands of those who are beginning to wonder what the distinctive characteristics of a charity might be... but I'm sure you'll get better if you persevere!
While the government takes the welfare state apart and The unfunded Big Society is used as a pretext to foist the fallout on to the voluntary sector I do hope that Stephen's knighthood does not result in him becoming an apologist for neoliberalism. If so I won't be renewing my ACEVO membership.
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