Tuesday 7 June 2011

Of one mind!

Just as I was signing off our Panel's report on " Delivering real choice" I get sent a copy of the PM speech announcing he is accepting many of our key recommendations ( although we haven't actually given him the report yet! )His comments on the role of competition which can drive choice and better quality is spot on. As also are the comments on the need for integration of services in health and social care and on the role of Monitor.

I am unclear why he thought it was a good idea to pre announce acceptance of much of our Report, but it is welcome .

But what I can promise is that we have more radical proposals that will take this debate forward further. I trust they will all be accepted too. As you can imagine I get many press calls following this and I try to suppress irritation about it all. But then as he commissioned the report I guess it's fair game? Though that does mean there is less to announce next week.

My impression is that there is now much greater consensus around the issue of competition and where it should be used and how it can promote greater choice for citizens. And it now looks like the changes we will propose will enable the Bill to go ahead with much clearer support. So the process , rough and ready though it is, has achieved change in a way that the more formal consultation processes do not. Maybe we will be seeing more of this " pause stuff " in the future. But after we launch this early next week I'm back to ACEVO !

I see that we have yet another ennobled big society guru giving us the benefit of his advice. I can't say I thought the absurd remarks on locality by Lord Glasman were helpful and showed he is simply a bad loser. I found his interview in Third Sector deeply irritating and yet another example of someone who does not understand the nature or history of our third sector. So he joins a long list of backbench Tory MPs and others who think it is smart to attack big charities. " Charities became very reliant on state funding to pursue their agendas, so charities became distant from local communities." Two errors here demonstrate a low grasp of our history. I suggest a proper read of my last lecture on rediscovering charity which shows the role of our sector working in partnership with the state in delivering services. Second why does he assume that you only define community in terms of geography? Has he not come across the concept of communities of interest such as the blind or partially sighted or people with autism ? For them the existence of the RNIB and the National Autistic Society are vital support and comfort. To suggest that they have become distant from their members is ignorant and insulting.

I remember the example of one of my members who runs an autism charity who said how a mother they were supporting with 2 autistic children , living in a tower block in North London, were facing harassment and abuse from their local community. Perhaps Lord Glasman has Rose tinted spectacles? Communities are not always friendly places. That is why we have national charities. Thank goodness. So no Lord Glasman , the Labour Party will not be renewed just by listening " to people who have a following in their own communities". It will also need to listen to those who run the great traditional national charities who form the backbone of our sector and who have made a huge contribution to building a more just and tolerant society over the last many centuries.

But in the Glasman Big Society it is clear the only true believers will be small community organisations and the rest of our great sector , the disability charities , the national charities and social enterprises will have no place. I am horrified that he is billed as the new advisor to the Labour Party on all this.

And on the subject of media reports I see that Paul Amadi has been calling for the merger of ACEVO , CFDG and IoF. Interesting. In fact I think there is something in this. Indeed it is something I have discussed with the former CEOs of those 2 bodies. We have tried in the past to look at opportunities to share an office together .There is a natural affinity between the 3 main professional membership bodies . We represent the top tier of sector leaders. Certainly in ACEVO we try to work with our colleagues on core issues around funding , such as gift aid. But whether a formal merger is the route I don't know?

The recent news on the reduction in numbers of charities shows that people are being drawn to mergers as the cuts affect us all. But I have also seen that the recent travails in our sector have encouraged much closer working between the key leadership bodies , as people have noticed there is now more close working between ncvo and ACEVO as the sectors two lead organisations. That can only be good as together we make a formidable pair in advocating on the national stage for our sector.


Mark said...

Oh dear...


Unknown said...

Mr Bubb, its quite startling to see that Cameron is keen to rubber stamp competition recommendations without actually seeing them - it does give me the feeling that he is pursuing it as an ideological goal without much consideration for the details or repercussions, anything containing privatisation is almost automatically agreed, it just needs someone to suggest it in any coherent way.

You say there seems to be greater coherence around the issue of competition, but I'm not sure what that opinion is based on, as no-one I know, and apparently not much of the NHS or public, seem to agree. Its a shame that the formal consultation process was not adhered to. That would appear to be the purpose of a listening process, which was purportedly the reason behind the pause, although its fairly obvious, and always was, that the pause was to allow public sentiment to tire so that some fairly unpopular legislation could be pushed through. It would seem that the democratic process has been successfully duped.

Your example of the mother with altruistic children doesn't disprove the need for support from local communities, it just proves that some local communities have abusive members, a local supportive group is still a good thing, especially when some parts of a local community are antagonistic. National charities can be useful in that situation, but then so can local ones.

Your news on possible merger of charities appears to indicate that far from choice, market forces are actually forming a "monopolistic" charitable umbrella, and as it seems you are close to Cameron and have been selected for your alignment with his views, then there is very little difference between the state and the charitable sector lead. Why not go one step further and merge the two? Its not such a great leap, and then we could unify health provision and the state again, and this uncomfortable mess would be resolved.

Having talked to a few health professionals it would appear that the standards in many institutions are being pressed in the name of profit - I have heard of several instances where managers are unprofessional and are promoting bad practise, but this is not being challenged as profits are not damaged. While this was also a danger under non-profit institutions due to general institutionalisation, it appears to be more common when highlighting care problems threatens profit. Do you have any ideas about how to address this systemic problem within a profit-based system, as currently it has not been effectively solved?