Tuesday 28 February 2012

'Ealth and Safety

Every so often there is a spasm of "red tape " and scrap health and safety laws. One of our respected ACEVO members is Tom Mullarkey, CEO off RoSPA , one of the worlds leading safety organisations.

He emails me recently to say that not one single person has been killed in the construction of the Olympic sites, despite the fact these are big construction projects. So our dreaded health and safety regulations not only serve a very sensible purpose but they save lives!

The Beijing figure on deaths during their Olympic building is unknown. There are c50 million migrant construction workers in China alone – often seen as the least cared-about group. In 2005, 127,000 workers are estimated to have lost their lives at work, about 40-50 times the rate of death in the UK. I would say this was likely to be a conservative figure.

It is probable that the figure for the Olympics would be measured in thousands, given a six year build. The injury rates would be typically 30times to 50times the death rate. But these are just rough estimates as there is no comprehensive reporting.

In Athens, the toll was officially 14 for the Olympic sites but unions claimed that many more had died. At least 40 are believed to have died overall including the infrastructure projects.

So scrapping red tape may please readers of the Daily mail but we have regulations for a purpose; saving lives and preventing accidents.

And talking of the Daily Mail I see that my friend Quentin Letts , their amusing columnist has been writing about me again. I now feature regularly. What an honour. He must love my blog...I'm described as a " third sector smoozer"..... " What a shiny button he is" he exclaims! Keep it up Quentin!

Thursday 23 February 2012


Another of our Silver Jubilee events; this time in Leeds. We meet at the Foundation run by ACEVO member Steve Woodford. It's part of a wonderful church complex that used to comprise Church, school and gymnasium ( mind and body catered for! ). All Souls is a splendid high Victorian church built by Gilbert Scott; in fact his last building before he died. Rather appropriately I was lunching with Paul Emery of Zurich yesterday at another Gilbert Scott triumph; St Pancras Station ( my last wine accompanied meal before Lenten purdah so it was Puligny Montrachet ).

And another amusing tie up was that Aidan who is the Leeds student union manager was there. I was at the 90th birthday party for NUS at the Commons yesterday. We have a range of student union managers as ACEVO members. He was talking about the potential of his membership; for example in a developing role in health- prevention and support etc.

After that I popped on my Chair of Social Investment business hat and went to Headinley to see the Headinley Enterprise and Arts centre, or " Heart" as it is charmingly known. SIB has given them a loan of 300k to develop this former primary school into a local hub of activity for the community.

And the already busy day was topped off by dinner ( no wine) at the Atheneum with the Vice Chancellor of Sheffield University to talk about development support for leaders. We had some rather interesting ideas we will develop further!

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Catherine the Great and Health!

Today's Times carries an article from me making a plea for politicians to realise the real challenges on health and social care, and make use of the imagination and innovation of our sector. Members who were at our AGM will have to forgive me for using the Catherine the Great quote!

When facing great political turmoil, Catherine the Great once said, "a great wind is blowing and that gives you either a headache or imagination". The current debate on the Health Bill has certainly given the Government a headache. But is our political class responding to the challenges facing our health and social care system with sufficient imagination?

When I was writing the report for the Government on choice and competition as part of the Health Bill's listening exercise, I was struck by the fact that there is a great deal more consensus on the challenges facing health and social care provision in this country than the furore over the Health Bill would suggest.

Crucially, there remains common acceptance by all major political parties of the basic principle of a universal national health service, provided free at the point of use. Furthermore, there is also growing agreement that the current system cannot cope with the growing health needs of a changing population.

There are now 18 million people suffering from long-term health conditions in the UK. That number is growing. 21% of the population are now aged over 60. That proportion is growing. Medical advances, lifestyle changes and demographic shifts are growing demand for NHS services, but financial resources are limited.

Almost everyone agrees we have a problem when over 70 % of NHS funding is spent on treating long term conditions, usually in the most inefficient way there is: in hospital. And almost everyone agrees that if the NHS is to cope with these pressures it must shift resources towards preventative, patient led community based services which treat chronic conditions far more effectively and which act to pre-empt acute crises of ill health.

Might I also suggest that the majority of observers agree that to carry out this change effectively, the NHS must allow new providers with new ideas to break the bureaucratic stranglehold on service delivery. When in government, Labour's Andy Burnham- now shadow health secretary- spoke of his vision for a preventative and people-centred NHS which would allow the maximum freedom for local innovation. Much the same thing can be heard from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today. And yet, to judge by the reaction that his bill has provoked, one would think that a centralised, bureaucratic and too often inefficient model of healthcare delivery is politically sacred and permanently untouchable.

Similar challenges face our increasingly broken system of social care provision; a problem which, as I suggested at the Health Summit at No. 10 on Monday, we have yet to tackle effectively. Successive governments have failed to address the issue of the growing numbers of frail elderly who are increasingly being treated (often badly) in hospital beds, when they should be receiving care at home or in high-quality residential homes. Due to the growing proportion of elderly members of the population, the system is creaking at the seams. We desperately need a political consensus to reform our social care system, and the current acrimonious debate on health is distracting attention from that necessity, as well as from the way forward proposed by the independent Dilnot Commission on social care provision.

What frustrates many of my members, the leaders of the country's charities and social enterprises, is that despite the consensus on both problems and solutions, the debate over reform focuses on the phantom of "privatisation".

We know that the majority of people who die in hospital want to be cared for at home or in a hospice, yet we fail to commission the charities that provide that care. This is a shocking waste. Many of the country's charities have a deep understanding of the problems that people and communities face, and do a superb job of providing vital community-based health care and much-needed assistance for patients in their homes. They know how to help patients to manage their own conditions. In such cases, supporting patients to manage their conditions through lifestyle, diet and exercise, is just as valuable as the work that clinicians do. Yet we continually fail to commission those charities that have the ability and drive to support patients in this way.

I fervently hope that our politicians can build on the common ground that exists on the need for health and social care reform, and find a way to take it forward. The positions of the Coalition and the Opposition differ more in emphasis than in substance. The Government is right to stress the importance of an open public service environment in which new providers can compete, innovate and offer users a real choice. However, it should place more emphasis on the end to which competition is the means: meaningful patient choice and user-led, community-based services that focus on effective intervention and prevention. The opposition, for its part, is right to emphasise the need for integrated, preventative services, but has forgotten that competition is a necessary first step to making that possible.

When we face the toxic combination of dramatic increases in demand for health care and dwindling resources, we must ask that the political parties focus on how the existing model can change to deliver effective health and social care that is based in the community rather than the hospital, is focused on prevention rather than cure, and places power and choice in the hands of citizens rather than providers. The change we need will never be achieved by leaving the current bureaucratic centralised systems in place. So how do we encourage the innovators with the imagination to do things differently?

An early start today. Off to Leeds for another silver jubilee meeting with members, but first off to early morning Mass for Ash Wednesday. I'm giving up alcohol for Lent...I wondered if I should mention on Blog in case I fall from grace and am caught by a member slurping a white wine...

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Health..the debate continues!

Such is the level of debate on health reform that we seem not to be able to have a sensible exchange of views . It's all become playground shouting. You are either " in favour" of the Bill or you are "against" it,  ( with the grave assumption that if you support the bill you probably also like spitting at your granny). So I'm caricatured in the Guardian, followed by a somewhat surprising tweet from Polly Toynbee as "supporting the Bill". Actually ACEVO does not have a position on the Bill as a whole; either supporting it or demanding it is killed. Members have very differing views on the multitude of different provisions within it.

But what is certain is that many ACEVO members look at the services provided by the NHS to their beneficiares (the mentally ill; the elderly; those dying in hospital beds) and think they could do better by those people. So I have strong views on choice ,  patients rights and the need for radical reform. And I use every opportunity I get to articulate those views.

We need to  engage in this debate at a level that recognises that  the third sector has a crucial role to play- as providers or as voice. To denigrate the views of those of us who make that case is to ignore the big challenges an NHS , universal and free at the point of use, faces. The true supporters of our NHS are those who see the danger signals in how we provide health and social care in the current system and make the case for change.

Competition is not a disease. The issue is how we ensure that competition is managed and regulated to ensure it benefits the patient and extends choice

Monday 20 February 2012

At no 10 !

Managed to get past the demo at the entrance to No 10. Placards about " 30 pieces of silver ". As if. A little more silver for the sector would be great at the moment.

I had been asked by the PM to attend the meeting to talk about the implementation of the Health Bill. This was an important meeting- though whether quite a "summit" as billed in media I'm not sure. And for my liking a little too much trivia on who had been asked to the party and who hadn't.

It was good to be there to represent the sector and it was clear from remarks by the PM that he clearly sees a bigger role for us and made a number of references to our delivery role. My two key points were;

1. We need action on Dilnot and social care reform. Many members have told me how important they see this . I said to the PM that without reform of social care funding, many people’s experience of care would be worse than it needs to be – and ultimately the funding crisis in social care would have a negative impact on the NHS reforms we were discussing. I urged the PM and Andrew Lansley to seize the opportunity to reform social care funding at a time when it desperately needs change.

2. The third sector has a vital role to play in delivering services to people who rely on the NHS, and we should not let the debate about ‘privatisation’ undermine the potential for charities and social enterprises up and down the country to do more for their beneficiaries. As the Government moves to implement its health reforms, ACEVO will be looking to ensure this potential is maximised, and we have been talking to the Royal College of GPs, the NHS Alliance and others about how we improve the relationships between ACEVO members and the GPs at the centre of the new system.

I shared his frustration that all of the discussion we had in the Future Forum and the changes they made seem to have been set at nought.

As I often do , I reminded the PM and Andrew Lansley of the need to press ahead delivering more choice and using us more; as I argued in my report to him on Choice and Competition.

" Competition is not a disease ". A refrain from my report. And a point that continues to need stressing.

We were offered a chance to leave by the back door as the protesters continued to protest. I declined the kind offer. I'm used to that sort of thing. Why, many moons ago I even did a bit myself........

Down memory lane....Wigmore

Hard to believe it I know, but nearly 60 years ago I was born in a small village in Kent and this weekend I was back there. No longer a village but urban sprawl. Strange to see the house where I was born (no nonsense about hospital births in those days!). Nurse Massie the midwife arrived hot foot on her bicycle while Father cycled into town to alert various parents and then off to school to teach. So no nonsense about fathers interfering in such matters then either. He arrived back home after tea to his first born!

I had been invited back to St Matthew's Wigmore to talk to the congregation about my work. Grandly entitled " An Evening with Sir Stephen Bubb" there were also representatives of 13 local voluntary groups who had an exhibition in the Church Hall.

I was one of the first boys to be confirmed and take his First Communion in the newly consecrated church.

And good to see lots of old friends. And indeed they were by now , like me, many years advanced . It was also good to see that one of the groups involved in the display was the Medway Towns Cyrenians, led by ACEVO member Karen Hurley, who was enthusiastic about what support and services ACEVO gives members in small charities. Great to hear.

I stayed overnight with old friends Anne and Mike Echlin in West Malling- just down the road from CAF. And Sunday I went with my 2 Aunts Dorreen and Joan , my Uncle Peter, Mother and Father and sister Lucy (and her gentleman caller John) , to my cousin Colin for lunch in Hartlip. I had been told not to talk "bonuses" (he being a banker!) But too late. He had read the Blog.....

Still, he did not begrudge me champagne.

Now I'm off to the much publicised NHS Summit in No 10 with the PM. I shall be arguing that whatever the debate on the Bill there are major challenges our health and social care system face. We need to debate how we tackle growing numbers of people with long term conditions, the challenge of an ageing population and the need for radical action on social care. We have a way forward with Dilnot. We need to get cracking on that and focus attentuion away from arguments on the Bill to what citizens and communities need from our social care and health service.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Lunching with PG tips, GPs and Ambassadors.

A hard old life it is! I have to do all these lunches and people just keep on asking! Perhaps the highlight this week was at the Gherkin; that wonderful Norman Foster tower in the City. 180 metres high and 40 floors, the top 2 floors are a restaurant, bar and viewing platform with stunning views out across London.

See view here;

Good to look down on the Tower of London and remember my goodly ancestor Sir Edward Neville, beheaded by Henry VIII as an adherent to the Roman faith. Always useful to be reminded there are sometimes consequences for speaking truth to power!

But don't think I was just swanning around. I was meeting one of my members , Suzanne Boardman, who runs Twycross Zoo, together with Derek Bishop who as a leadership development consultant has been supporting her through turbulent times.

Photo of suzanne and derek.

Every so often you meet someone who renews your faith in how wonderful our sector can be. Suzanne is one of those third sector CEOs who combine incredible professionalism with a fiery determination to support her cause. In her case the protection of primates. This has led her into battle in gypsy camps in Greece as she rescued dancing bears. And in China. She runs Twycross Zoo which is the biggest collection of primates in the world.

The zoo has a fascinating history. Set up in 1963 by 2 ladies with business flare , Badham and Evans (Evans is still alive - 92- and involved in the Zoo Suzanne tells me). They started with just a few monkeys as pets but then got given more and started collecting. Their chimpanzees are the original PG Tips chimps- so they made enough money on royalties to buy a rectory and start the Zoo!

Suzanne faced a financial challenge from hell when she has started a bold new developement of a visitor and training centre. Then came the Lehman brothers collapse and their investments were decimated. But she reorganised and refinanced and survived. With true grit she said whatever happened she would not allow the collection of animals to be broken up and sent off to who knows what conditions. It's true that one of our distinguishing features is that strong and fierce commitment to our beneficiaries. A third sector CEO isn't just doing a job; they are on a mission. She also tells me she had a severe governance crisis which she survived and transformed.

Incidentally Suzanne tells me their new centre is ideal for board and staff awaydays. You can even have dinner with snow leopards watching you!

www .twycrosszoo.org

And yesterday was a double whammy. Lunch with my old Oxford friend the Irish Ambassador , at the Embassy , and then dinner at the Royal College of GPs. Neil Hunt is their CEO and a member and their Chair is my friend Clare Gerada (another dedicated and fiery woman!).

We need to develop strong links with GPs now they will have a stronger commissioning role. So with a group of my health members and a bunch of their leading GPs we talked about how to maximise links, enthuse GPs about our sector's potential for delivery and patient advocacy.

But this over lunching takes it toll. I was somewhat tired this morning. Hope my Chair is not too harsh on me at my supervision meeting this afternoon !

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Oh come on Shirley!

Shirley Williams may be verging on a National treasure but she is totally wrong on competition in the Health Bill as reported in the Guardian yesterday ( so must be true? ) . She is arguing that the entire Part 3 of the Bill- all the competition clauses should be dropped.

This would be a disaster for the country's charities. Many of us are tired of the gross assumption that

# competition is only about the private sector.

# and that citizen choice is not important.

Whose side do the politicians want to be on? The producer or the citizen? Is it not ironic that a respected social democrat is pitching on behalf of a state monopoly against extending choice for the citizen?

Part 3 , as amended after my report on Choice and Competition is about giving life to the NHS Constitution promise of more choice. How do you get more choice unless you have a diversity of providers. Is it fair that the only choice you get is what you are given?

My group spent 3 months reviewing the choice and competition clauses in the Bill. We made a number of important changes which the Government implemented. We said we did not want the entire section 3 of the Bill dropped. We said that there would be advantage in properly managed competition as a means of ensuring diversity and so choice. Trying to go back on all the work of the Future Forum is very frustrating to those of us who spent this time examining this in detail.

So those who support removing "competition" clauses , answer this please. Do you think it is right that when the majority of people at the end of their life want to die at home or in a hospice , they die in a hospital bed ( and at greater cost to the NHS ! ).

Why are we not creating new markets for long term conditions to encourage more charities to expand the work they do supporting and advising citizens to manage their condition? We need integrated services and commissioning to achieve the best

I'm tired of the way this debate is characterised as all about the private sector. I'm fed up that respected politicians who effectively ignore our sector and promote actions that will damage it and the services we provide for patients and citizens.

Let's hope Shirley has been misquoted!

Competition is not a disease.

Tuesday 14 February 2012


I'm not a morning person. Like my Hound I like a lie in , usually with the Today programme to keep me company! So it was a stretch to make the launch of " Give More" this morning at 8.30 ( and no breakfast- it's not Lent yet is it? ).

This is a brilliant new 12 month initiative to get people to make public commitments to give more time , money and energy in 2012. And to get everyone to talk more about giving.

And as we met a slogan was unveiled on the top of the Post Office Tower just up the way which says , " GIVE MORE".

I was hoping to see Bob Diamond there. If only one of our top bankers made a public statement that they were donating a good chunk of their bonus top support those Communities who are bearing the brunt of our recession. Perhaps the British Bankers Association might like to publicise the campaign? Get their members to talk about their giving.

See their website: http://www.givemore.org.uk/

And I shall be doing that myself!

Mutuals and all that...

A rather good lunch yesterday ( in the sense of food for thought rather than sustenance as it was only boring old sanis! ) at Reform. Reform is one of my favourite think tanks because they promote public service reform with zeal and vigour. And goodness knows that is needed! And of course led by the splendid Nick Seddon.

They had gathered together a strong bunch of thinkers and advocates to discuss mutuals. We had Julian Le Grand to discuss where and why and where we have got to with Government. I was busy taking notes till he mentioned he had done a blog so I thought I'd give you some exited highlights from that. Always good to promote fellow bloggers.

He blogged ,

" We are moving into an era where public services are provided by an increasingly diverse range of providers. Social enterprises, charities, mutuals of various kinds, private firms and professional partnerships: all are of growing importance in delivering social and other services, sometimes alongside, but more often instead of, old-style public monopoly providers. It is therefore important to think about what kind of provider is the most appropriate to entrust with the delivery of public services. A key issue here is one of motivation – or beliefs about motivation. If one believes that everyone in the private sector is what David Hume termed a knave – an egoist concerned only with promoting their own well-being – while also believing that everyone in the public or charitable sectors is a knight – a professional altruist imbued with the public service ethos - then one would prefer public services to be delivered by a public sector, or perhaps a charitable, organisation, for the knavish private sector, driven by the selfish concerns of shareholders and managers, will exploit the informational and other provider advantages inherent in many public sector services to the detriment of the service user.

If, on the other hand, one believes that everyone, whether they work in the public, private or charitable sectors, is fundamentally knavish, then one would be most reluctant to let a public service be delivered by a monopoly of any kind. Rather, it would be better to rely upon a competitive market where each individual's self-interest can be harnessed byAdam Smith's 'invisible hand' to serve the public good. In fact, as we know, in the real world motivations are complex. Everyone, whether in the public, private, charitable or social enterprise sectors, is a mixture of knight and knave – although the balance may vary between the sectors.

So the trick is to harness this complex structure of motivation so as to deliver a high quality service: to construct what elsewhere I have called a 'robust' incentive structure, one with knights and knaves pulling in the same direction to deliver a service that benefits both the users of the service and those who work within it.".

And it goes without saying which side I am on. After all , I'm a knight by definition as well as being on the side of the angels.

Incidentally , a tip to all those who believe champagne is life's finest medicine ( as Napolean said ," in victory I deserve it , in defeat I need it!" ). Tesco have their premier cru on offer for half price. It's a great dry champagne and at a very reasonable price , such that even a third sector CEO could get one! No sponsorship was involved in this Blog!!! Though I'd be open to offers , especially if you drop your promotion of the health lottery and push the National Lottery !

And I opened one for dinner last night at home as I was entertaining Seb Elsworth ( fellow brixton resident).

Monday 13 February 2012

Europe, women and fire

There is something deeply worrying about the situation in Greece. Is the EU moving in a profoundly undemocratic direction. We should all feel uncomfortable at a democratically elected government being ordered around by undemocratic institutions to protect a currency! There was even a debate on Today with someone suggesting that the government may need to be removed. We have already seen one country ditch its elected government in favour of "technocrats" , whatever they are. Just because they had a clown as a PM there has been less fuss but the point is the same.

Whilst we rightly argue about the bonus culture in the city , the bigger problem is the way in which the EU is moving to put the protection of the single currency above the rights of the people of Greece.

There has been much criticism of Cameron and his stance on women in the boardroom following his Scandinavian visit. I don't share it. It was a welcome intervention. It drew attention to the progress made in Norway since the introduction of quotas.

" There is clear evidence that putting an end to Britain's male dominated business culture would improve performance" he said. He has said an option of a 30% quota may be an option if companies fail to increase representation.

The UK performs badly compared to other countries in the EU. The proportion of women in FTSE 100 is only 15%. One in ten of Britain's biggest companies have an all male board!

In Norway , where they introduced a 40% quota the proportion is now 42%.

Companies could do worse than looking at our sector where a wealth of talent of top national charity CEOs awaits; my starter list for ten are;

Clare Tickell, Fiona Reynolds, Lesley-Anne Alexander, Jackie Ballard, Sue Sayer, Lucy de Groot, Jane Slowey, Barbara Frost, Loretta Mingela, Ruth Turner , Virginia Beardshaw and Anne-Marie Carrie. And there are plenty on others!!!

So head hunters. Get cracking! Happy to put you in touch.

But let's face it, we have seen how resistant finance and top businesses are to reform of top pay and bonuses, do we seriously think they will voluntarily increase diversity in the boardroom. It's time to be bold. Even if we were to adopt a voluntary quota scheme; with naming and shaming the backward lads that would be an improvement. The good progressive companies would set a trend.

And finally , sad news from Charlbury. Our beautiful Parish church of St Mary's had a fire yesterday. Fortunately only in part of one of the side aisles but of course all the heating and electrics are damaged so no services for a while. Perhaps someone in sympathy with the poor old Greeks!

Finally 2 lovely pictures from the snow:

Saturday 11 February 2012

A programme for Europe we can like!

Rupert Evenett , former investment banker and recent Chair of BTCV is also a colleague on the Board of the Social Investment Business. He has recently written an article on the role of social finance for a european journal. I thought it was worth reproducing here.

" Across Europe thousands of social entrepreneurs are combining social values and motivations with business acumen. They are using enterprise as a sustainable platform for effective social intervention. They are active often in large and growing areas where private enterprise can lack the appropriate values fit, for example in community health care and social care or in skills and training for the young. They are innovative and create a public good for the often most vulnerable fellow citizens that they help. And by avoiding the need for subsequent (bigger, more expensive, less effective...) critical and institutionalised action by the state they save money for the public finances – precisely through improving the life opportunities and capabilities of the citizens concerned at the same time.

A “triple bottom line” in the jargon – and good news for empowering citizens in anyone’s language, especially at a time of economic and social fragility.

Of course social enterprise is partly vintage wine in new bottles. Cooperative and other enterprising associations have always been with us. But it’s getting new life from a new generation of social entrepreneurs who are creating a new and exciting prospectus for social investment – and just need access to capital to achieve so much more.

People like Chris Manze of Stone Soup in Nottingham who used an initial £0.5million of scale-up social investment to build what is now a large and broadly spread social enterprise covering social care, training and employment services. People like Jolanta Lacosta of AmbitiousAboutAutism who used £5million of social loan investment to turn a group of portacabins into an innovative leading school for autistic children and is now innovating again with a model for post-school university level education to create richer opportunities for real progression for them. People like Rachel Talbot of Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau who by creating a social enterprise hub of advice through a £1 million social loan has given a blood transfusion to the idea of civic advice, practically helping individual citizens secure their rights.

And what’s really exciting is that this new wave of social enterprise and social investment has passed a threshold. Not just an idea though still in its infancy, over the past ten years it has become an existing practice with a growing track record. A growing track record of social enterprises showing they have viable business models and, more importantly, the ability to execute them. And a growing track record of risk and return working – of social investors investing in these enterprises and finding the risks are manageable and not as great as you might think. In the UK, social investment loans from different providers yield 5-6% (and payment-for-success innovations like social impact bonds have the potential to pay higher equity-like returns). In the US, funds like the Calvert Foundation’s Community Investment Notes yield individual investors up to 2%. The acceptability of such returns suggests that the risks (and blended returns) of social investment are getting better understood and are no bar to investment.

In short, social investment is now an Emerging Market, with the opportunity like many an emerging market before it, actually to emerge and become a significant economic and social force. And the classification as an emerging market is important because it identifies what needs to be done in a very un-rocket science way. It just needs to be able to keep going in building a track record of successful investment and acceptable risk. Like successful emerged markets before, by demonstrating its risk and return characteristics, social investment can start attracting mainstream investment capital and by taking the “exotic” out of the social can establish itself as a viable if still alternative investment class. Hedge funds followed this route – wouldn’t it be nice to see social investment make better use of the same roadmap?

Still with lots to prove and fragile as well as exciting? Of course. What new entrepreneurial market worth its salt isn’t? This is about entrepreneurs creating something new with all that that entails. And it could be big – in fact needs to be big to address the scale of public need while also diversifying the financing of public good at a time of public financial constraint.

Let’s look at some figures. Bank J P Morgan in its social finance research has suggested social enterprise and charity already contributes 1.5% or £24billion to the UK GDP alone. Their December 2011 survey suggested an expected funds flow globally into social investment of US$4billion. A comparison with private equity and hedge funds suggests a target for social investment of 1-2% of mainstream investors’ portfolios is reasonable (with some aspirationally projecting 5-10% on a ten year view). This is big stuff.

Yet history of course is full of good ideas that deserved to but didn’t flourish. What can we all do to help this social investment market build on early success?

The European Commission has already done a lot to catalyse social investment (look at the creation of the European Investment Fund’s social investment facility) and the UK’s creation of Big Society Capital, for example have an important ongoing role.

But much of what is needed immediately is technical. We need the financial risk and return data across the field of social investment to be collected in aggregate and on a comparable basis – it is this data and not just the individual investment experiences that will finally transform social investment into being an investible alternative asset class. This needs a trade body or government sponsored body to take the work in this area of innovators like the Global Impact Investing Network and apply it tailored to a more regional and local basis. We need social investors to experiment with retail investment products for high and medium high net worth individual investors and with stock exchange listed collective investment vehicles for social investment. And therefore we need the financial regulators across different European markets to acquire the relevant social investment sector expertise (especially if a European passport for social investment comes in) so they are effective regulators but not excessive brakes on this needed experimentation.

We need existing charitable foundations (and crucially their regulators) in different markets to embrace the multiplier benefits of so-called “mission related investing” – incorporating social investment as initially a small percentage of their core investment programmes for their endowments and not just as part of their grant giving – a move which would really catalyse social investment. And we need banks and other mainstream financial investors to see the long term benefits of dipping a toe into this growth investment market that is so different both from established corporate social responsibility grant-giving and from ethically-screened investing.

Returns that are a blend of financial and social returns will be attractive to investors on a financial basis alone in our current low interest rate, yield hungry environment and with social returns - or a public good narrative – on top, the appeal to retail investors is very marketable. Who said good has to be uncommercial?

And this is also an opportunity for Europe to take a leadership role in the new global growth market of “Impact Investing”. If Europe’s financial markets don’t take a lead in this, others will. In Brussels,Commissioner Barnier’s recent conference on social enterprise gave important and forward looking leadership. The time is right. Let’s take our lead from the entrepreneurs themselves and roll our sleeves up to carry on with what is now a practical job of continuing to build this market. "

Friday 10 February 2012

Healthy lunch!

Today with Phil Collins, the Deputy Editor of The Times. Always a fun thing to do and not just because we were in a splendid Italian restaurant Quirinale in Westminster. Phil is a great wordsmith and brilliant purveyor of anecdote and debunker of political posturing.

As it happens he had a trenchant Op Ed in the Times this morning, " the guardian angels of the NHS are killing it". A useful reminder that some organisations so loudly supporting the NHS were once violently opposed to it. I talk, of course of the BMA who voted by 86 % against the creation of the NHS in 1945. As Phil writes,

" Its worth noting that the NHS is full to bursting with business people already. They work for themselves and buy and sell their practices on the open market. We know them as GPs ".

The saddest aspect of the current row about the Bill is how it distracts from the real challenges the NHS faces. These are;

#How do we extend real choice to citizens and patients?

# How do we empower patients to manage health and care; especially for the 18milliopn people with long term conditions?

# How do radically boost resources to prevent ill health?

#How do we move resources from hospitals to the community ?

And why is this debate being conducted by people who believe that the NHS belongs to the staff who work in it rather than the citizens who pay for it ?

To quote Phil again,

" It is ignorant to suggest that increasing competition or allowing patients more choice is the beginning of the end of the NHS ".

There are thousands of strong charities and social enterprises gagging top play a bigger role. Hospices who want to take people from expensive hospital beds and provide better care for people at the end of their lives. Bodies like Diabetes UK or Macmillan Cancer Care or Asthma UK and Age UK who are gagging to play a bigger role in providing care and support where it is needed most - in the community or at home. And what are we doing. Expanding their role? Encouraging them? No. We are cutting their funding and abusing them by inaccurate attacks on " marketisation ".

The core principle of a universal service free at the point of use if not being challenged.

As I pointed out in my report, the true defenders of a free universal service are those arguing for reform and for a bigger role for alternative providers because the financial challenge is such that, unless tackled now, in a decade we will be forced to debate an insurance based system as the current arrangements begin to collapse. That is the real danger we face, not allowing many more independent providers of health services. Many , like the third sector charities and social enterprises who offer better value for money and a more client based service.

And now for a healthy weekend walking the Hound. Good job she likes the snow!

Thursday 9 February 2012

Service is the only true dignity....

One of the best conferences on the circuit is the Guardian's public services one held traditionally in February. This years event sounded great. They had asked me to speak but I had already booked my holiday in Cyprus. Shame!

But that great journalist Patrick Butler has done a illuminating story on it. I was struck by the contribution of The Bishop of London , my friend Richard Chartes. Let me repeat his contribution as reported by Patrick,

" The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, called for the intangible values of public service to be restored in the face of "a society of strangers and a low-trust world". The political obsession with "targets and figures" had impaired public services' capacity for "connected wisdom," he said. Markets that distorted the outcomes of public services should be judged "innapropriate on moral grounds," he added. At the heart of reform, he suggested, has to be the reconception of public services as the sign of a humane society. He quoted the Beveridge-era Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, who had welcomed the creation of a welfare state in the early 1940s with words: "Service is the only true dignity."
My new Board member Allison Agius , who runs Catalyst Stockton has done a blog on the ACEVO commission report on youth unemployment. Worth reading also as an insight into the day to day , or day to night life of a third sector CEO. See it here

Catalyst Stockton is a support organisation that provides help for third sector organisations within Stockton onTees. And as you will see from her blog she shares something in common with Hazel Blears; she rides a big black motorbike. Though not to ACEVO board meetings!

I know what she means about the demands of the job! I have a day packed with meetings , starting early with my very own Directors Group coming together to get their orders from Dear Leader , then a lunch with the new CEO of the London VCS and even an interview. Might have to catch up on The Archers on iplayer again. What a great invention. Will it catch on I wonder.

And finally my Thought for The Day , ( sent by my brother but I forget who said it),

" rather than waiting for your boat to come in , swim out and get it. ".

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Health and customers !

An interesting day to be going to the hospital for a checkup, with all the news about the Health Bill.

There is a brilliant analysis of the problems of health and social care in the Times by Alan Milburn. As he says the NHS is

" being hit by a toxic combination of dramatically changing health needs and rapidly dwindling resources...we need a new wave of reform to replace the existing model of how we deliver care ....based in the community , not obsessed with the hospital; focused on prevention rather than treatment and it should put power into the hands of the patients rather than providers. "

He goes on to point to how we tackle long term conditions. It was the issue I highlighted in my report on choice and competition for the Government. As he says diabetes. Among adults is expected to rise by 50% worldwide in the next 25 years.

" What differentiates such diseases from other forms of illness is that they become a permanent a permanent fixture of people's lives. They are with them 24/7. So what pateints do to manage their own conditions in terms of lifestyle, diet and excercise becomes as important as what clinicians do. They should not be treated as passive recipients of care in a system that denies them power and responsibility. Instead they should be given greater control over their own health. "

So echoing my own recommendations top Government on personal health budgets and he argues that healthcare must change from being "public sector to public service". As he says monopolies rarely deliver efficiency or respond to customer demand.

Spot on Alan. And these argumemts need to be heard. Our sector should be playing a massively increased role. That's not " marketisation". That's choice. That's how we deliver a people focussed service.

I'm not sure frankly that ditching the Bill as he recommends is right. We are where we are and we should push ahead now and make the new system work. But let's beware the vested interests who oppose change; who argue against transferring money out of hospitals ( that means closing many ) and who want to stop alternative providers like charities and social enterprises from delivering more.

And on the subject of customer focus a story from Manchester !

My last third sector visit on tuesday was to the Manchester Art Gallery. A great collection of Art Nouveau and a fabulous craft gallery showing off the brilliance of design and manufacturing. But what is it about gallery Directors. They clearly all have great eyesight. The signs for the paintings are tasteful and small. Design over function. The problem is that for poor partially sighted folk like me we need function over design. I had to take off my glasses to peer at the picture notes and this excited the attention of an over zealous gallery attendant who assumed I was up to nefarious things ( stealing picture or perhaps spitting at it? ). As a customer and on behalf of my RNIB Chair, the rumbustious Lesley Anne ( as she now is known in Third Sector) I gave some helpful feedback.....

And enjoy the Lowry..

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Yes; we are brilliant. And abused !

Manchester. Snow gone and its relatively warm up north! A great meeting with members as part of our ACEVO silver jubilee and then the launch of our youth unemployment commission report.

Sometimes it's good to be reminded just how brilliant and dynamic our sector can be! I had a visit and meeting today with the Director of of 42nd St, a youth project in manchester led by the excellent Vera Martins. I like Vera; she is a star.

And of course it was good to see them following our Commission's report ( shame much coverage was swallowed up in the soap opera of fratricidal rivalry - why do we have a media more obsessed with ephemera than the tragedy unfolding on youth? )

42nd St have been here 30years. Originally the vision of a youth worker and local councillor set the project up to work with young people( 13-25 ) with stress , isolation and mental illness by working in schools and one to one with youth.

Their approach is that the young people should be in control. They specialise in services for the hardest to reach- so kids not going to youth clubs for example, homeless or stuck in youth hostels or what we used topcall " In care".

Because they believe in voice of young person they have 3 kids on their board of 11.

And what was so cool is that they deigned their own building. And it is an architectural gem- a moving wall and interview rooms accessed through wardrobes ( see below).

I'm there primarily as the SIB Chair. I like to visit organisations we have made loans to ( I visit Fairfields, a composting social enterprise in Manchester market in the morning). SIB have made a large investment in 42nd St to enable them to build this 1m silver building. They see that the built design can be part of the therapeutic process. And it is!

We talked about the Commission's approach. Vera was concerned that everyone wants a " quick fix" . But these are very damaged or isolated people . 40% are self referrals. They are offered different options from structured support one to one or say a depression group or less structure like a drop in group. There are currently 900 kids engaged.

They have a turnover of some 1m pa with 30 staff- mostly full time.

60% of their revenue comes from contracts. Rest from charity , foundations etc. There is not much trading income but they are working on that!

A major issue for kids is revolving door. She says place- continuity hugely important. Stability crucial. So a place important- as in their new building. And staff.

She says there is a real problem on FCR. They had made real progress on this but it is going backwards as funders cut grants and contracts. The BBC children in need for example have such a policy ; say they only funding direct project costs!

Vera also comments that councils or the NHS will often criticise salaries in our sector . I won't tell you what Vera gets paid but it is not generous and much less than many workers in the public sector ( and no big pension either )

They get described as being an " expensive service"because obviously they work with vulnerable and highly damaged people. You need professional staff for that. A typical public sector stereotype. We work in the voluntary sector. Why should we get paid as well!

Often a major barrier to more sector delivery is the stereotypes about the our sector. No understanding of fact that we need highly professional staff to deal very damaged kids- crime- mental health- addiction.

She quotes a public sector service for youth that has been developed and which costs £ 300k for 5 people ! Yet again double standards by the public sector professionals who would not dream of working for the salaries paid in our sector but are happy to lecture us on ours!

Monday 6 February 2012

Act on youth unemployment!

Today we launch our ACEVO commission on youth unemployment report in both London and Manchester . Chaired by David Miliband MP it will attract much attention. And so it should. The scandal of youth unemployment will scar a generation if action is not taken.

It is worth reading this impressive report. See it here. It looks to action from government , from business and from our own sector.

The Commission we set up has built on the evidence of hundreds of submissions from our members and others who contributed to this work. It was very clear from the ACEVO members who have been involved how serious they see this problem. Many of them remember the damage of mass youth unemployment in the 80 s and are calling for those lessons to be learnt. And though chaired by David Miliband it has cross party support. Baroness Scott , ACEVO member as CEO of Tomorrow's People and a Tory peer was vice chair .

We are keen that the Government takes notice and considers how to act on many of the very sensible ideas and recommendations.

Boring old democracy!

I'm not sure it was an entirely sensible decision to listen to the Today programme as I sat on my cypriot hotel balcony with my coffee. The sun was  shining, the sea lapping invitingly beneath me  ( the news of impending snow in London added to the enjoyment) but my blood pressure must have shot up as I listened to the exchange between Angela Knight and Polly Tonybee on top pay.

This was prompted by the Times front page story that top bankers from around the world have accused politicians here of " pandering to public opinion". Politicians listening to the people! The very idea! In the world in which such people live I suspect the dreary business of democracy must seem a distraction. How much this sums up the problem . The arrogant sense of entitlement and the outrage in banking when they are challenged to behave responsibly is the real problem.  And I wonder how many of these self same people, expressing such contempt for the democratic process , sign their names off on the company " corporate social responsibility" statements? Did you know that , for example , in 2010, 5 employees from Barclays cashed in on pay and bonuses double the size of what the company invested in communities worldwide (£110 million to £55 million).

 Polly was spot on in challenging Angela. Until those in leadership positions understand why the people are so hacked off with the behaviour of those who run our boardrooms we will not make progress. There was an excellent article on bonuses in the FT on Saturday  by Andrew Hill. He pointed to the Harvard Business Review's Mihir Desai who argues that market based compensation in the US inflamed a " giant financial-incentive bubble...such remarkable winfalls have given rise to a sense of entitlement that burdens us still ". And he quotes an academic who argues that  the circle of people who make the decisions on top pay benchmark themselves against " a limited population of elite salaries" .

An opinion piece by Martin Dickson in same FT argues the current banker bashing is tempting,but wrong. However, remarkably he  writes ; " the public is right to be furious with the banking industry . It's folly , ignorance and absurd risk taking against a background of extraordinary regulatory laxity played a large role in getting us into our economic mess. Arrogant bankers, insulated from reality were slow to take any responsibility for the crash or accept that their lavish  pay and profits turned out to be underwritten by an implicit government safety net.  Heads I win , tails the taxpayer looses. " Couldn't have put it better myself. A thought for the day for The British Bankers Association newsletter perhaps? It is not just that the excesses of the financial markets led to our current recession and the pain that it is causing for the millions unemployed or those who will suffer from cuts in public spending , but also this arrogance and sense of entitlement demonstrated by top businessmen attacking politicians for listening to the public that so enrages.

What is needed is leadership that reflects on wrongs committed and a desire to reform. Martin Dickson goes on to argue that rage makes a bad guide to policy making. True ; to an extent. It is right we have a debate on boardroom reform and top pay. But to do so we need businessmen and bankers to understand the rage and accept their part in our common misfortune. And it is no good bankers like the Chair of RBS, Sir Philip Hampton ,  calling for reasoned debate on the one hand and then denouncing what he describes as " witch hunts" , hysteria and " mob mentality " on the other! Sir Philip , is this " mob" the British people? The taxpayers who saved your bank from collapse? Such a disdainful attitude to your shareholders is hardly wise. However to be fair he does also say, " "Essentially, particularly in the banks, particularly in the investment banks, shareholders have done pretty badly and employees have done pretty well. That needs to be corrected. " he admits change is one needed in top pay. But he , and other bankers would so well to listen to public opinion , not attack it. We do need to reward strong business performance.

We must attract talent at the top. Bonuses , and large ones at that , may well encourage  strong performance .  But they are now well out of kilter and seem rarely connected to performance. It is also right to remember that the financial industry contributes to the economy and creates jobs.I suspect that many people who work in the banks on rather less lavishly paid salaries are as enraged  by the antics of their bosses as we are.  The anti democratic mutterings of their bosses must be a source of embarrassment to them too. In theological terms forgiveness can only come after repentance Martin! So absolution for the bankers may be some way off. And the more they absurdly complain of " bank bashing" the greater the difficulty they will find themselves in. Removing the moat in ones own eye is good advice before preaching to others on the evils of governments' listening to public opinion. So the Government must continue to demand reform. Not just on pay but on how we run our boardrooms. Cameron and Miliband have been right to argue for more responsible capitalism. Now the bankers and business folk who are so loudly complaining must listen. And a final thought. As Bob Diamond from Barclays contemplates whether to take his bonus, how about generously donating it to charity ? What might make a difference is if  Bob and colleagues  spent a week with , say Richard Hawkes at SCOPE and saw how the lives of people with profound disability have been affected in the recession with cuts by  government to their benefits and cuts to their services by councils. Then perhaps they may get an inkling of the anger many in our sector feel at the banking and financial industry. Then let's have a debate on top pay.

Friday 3 February 2012

Smell the coffee!

That's the rather strong aromatic cypriot coffee ( not unlike turkish coffee but I mustn't say that here ). Taking a cup whilst sitting by the sea just under the cliffs where the ancient Greek amphitheatre still lies. And an excellent freshly caught sea bream seemed like the perfect lunch. It is sunny here today- though it has been cold. What a contrast to much of Europe and the UK.

But there are others who need to wake up and smell the coffee. Ed Miliband is right to warn business today of the dangers of failing to get the message on top pay.

The lack of leadership from the umbrella bodies representing top business and banking has been lamentable. Angela knight of the British Bankers Association, , as always ready to defend the indefensible , trumpets that Hester's bonus is essential as it is just " the going rate". Exactly Angela, that is why we need legislation so that the going rate can be brought in line with what is decent and proper for rewards for performance at the top. Of course good performance should be rewarded but bonuses have long since done that.

And the President of the CBI was way off the mark when he writes about not attacking bonuses because that might put off people applying for jobs at the top. The chorus of top business people lamenting Fred's knighthood stripping was pathetic.

 It is a shame there is little leadership at the top of business warning their colleagues of the dangers of their business practises becoming so publicly unacceptable. I commend Simon Walker , CEO of the IoD who warned in his Christmas message to members that top pay must be proportionate and seen to be within what the public see as appropriate and geared to performance.

The demands for a more responsible business need to be heard by those in the CBI and others in leadership positions. It is not anti business to want moral capitalism.

And finally let me leave you with some images from my trip today with Cyprus's leading social enterprise advocate George Isaias.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Europe on the wrong path

There it was , amidst the paraphernalia of tourist tat, the Da Vinci cafe and grotesque 60s development; the Church of St Lazarus. Built in the 9th century by the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI and St Lazarus lies finally in his tomb under the chancel. The gorgeous iconostasis is a mass of golden images worshipped here for centuries.

But Larnaca stands testament to the ravages of mass tourism- the old 19th century houses that survive are dilapidated or in ruin while KFC and Mcdonald reign supreme along the seafront. But as this was the birthplace of Zeno, the founder of the stoic school of philosophy in the 4th century BC, we must be stoical about progress; though it is clear not all change is good.

And Cyprus is no longer a cheap place to live or visit. The locals will tell you it was until the arrival of the euro; then prices rocketed. This amply demonstrates the perils of the single currency. Brown was right to keep us out. Cameron is right to veto a centralising undemocratic treaty. I wish he would stress that it is for reasons of political policy he is resisting, not to safeguard the City of London though!

It is now clear that the single currency is leading Europe down a path of centralisation, where power is taken from citizens and communities and handed to bureaucrats and central administrations. To protect that currency more power is taken away from national governments. The right to establish your own budgets and taxes are fundamental to sovereignty. Yet now we see the rest of the EU heading down a profoundly undemocratic route. We need power decentralised from Brussels. More localism not less.

Civil society should play a stronger role and yet if seems it will have less power. How will we resist the demands of an ever burgeoning central state? So the ideals of a stronger europe centred around its peoples is to be sacrificed to the bizarre desire to have a single currency. Perhaps Greece will have the sense to drop the euro and stop this mad rush to ditch cherished democratic ideals?