Thursday, 10 February 2011

Talking and banking...

In a cab off to the Commons Committee on the Health Bill. Well prepared (I hope) and well admonished by my team about what to say and not to say. I shall enjoy this. I shall promote and defend the "any willing provider policy"!

I've also put the finishing touches to an article for a national paper tomorrow on same subject. Look out for it!

After that I move on to speak at two conferences and hopefully time to eat and think in the meantime. I have not prepared for the other speeches but God will provide.

This week has been rather dominated by media; calls and releases. A call from the News Editor at the Sunday Times last night even interrupted my listening of the Archers, shock horror.

The news yesterday on the Big Society Bank is good. Readers of Blog will know I have been banging on about this; the need for an adequate loan fund. I said £60m is not enough.

So it was good to get a call from Nick Hurd MP as I stood on the steps of the British Museum telling me they have an extra £200 on top of the dormant account money. This is a serious start. This can be built upon. And will. I understand more announcements are on the way.

But we have to be clear that this is about access to capital. It is not another grant fund. It is not transitional relief for ailing organisations. It is about access to capital for third sector organisations who want to deliver more public services.

For too long we have been cut off from traditional sources of capital. The banks do not lend to the sector. That has to change. One of the positive things I want the new Bank to do is set an example; that lending to social causes can be profitable. Futurebuilders has shown the way. Our default rate is still at only c2%. And that remember is for what are officially classified as "unbankable" loans.

So I tell Nick we are pleased. He should be congratulated for his dedication in getting us this far.

I was also delighted that Ed Miliband MP raised the closure of libraries in his constituency at PM Questions yesterday. It is a disgrace that the County Council plan to close my own beloved Charlbury Library. This is where I do my Blogging at the weekend, so it's practically a national treasure (blue plaque can only be a time away). Save my Library David!

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