Thursday 31 May 2012

Good for George!

Great news that the Government have listened to sense and exempted charity donations from the proposed tax relief cap.

Good to get this out the way so we can move on. I had a good call with Nick Hurd MP and we agreed its important to put this behind us now so we can get back to the agendas that really matter for the sector. This dispute was overshadowing all we did and harming the Government's attempts to promote giving and the Open Public Services agenda.

And congratulations to all the ACEVO members who lobbied and campaigned; and the wider sector who united behind a firm line and resisted the temptation to offer compromises or fudges. There is a lesson here for anyone who wants to take on the sector in the future. Don't. We have a power and connections that are stronger than you think. So work with us, not against us!

60 Glorious years!

No, not the Queen! My parents are celebrating their Diamond Jubilee Wedding Anniversary today,and the Bubb's have descended en masse to The Castle in Castle Townshend. And the sun has even arrived , though it has a habit of disappearing in Ireland!

As you can see it's a grand old place. A Somerville GGx7 was the Rector here and lived in the older castle up the way. They had replaced the Catholic O'Driscolls who had been turfed out by the English. The Rev Thomas Somerville had been turfed out of his living in Scotland by the Presbyterians and was made the Rector and given the castle so rough justice all round.

Anyway we all thought a lovely spot for a celebration. As you can see we were enjoying the sun whilst it was here!

And my parents enjoyed their telegram from that other Diamond Jubilee

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Sound the retreat!

Good news reaches me of the change of heart on the " pasty tax". Of course the papers have great fun on this. It's a shame these things are presented as U- turns. There is honour in reviewing what you do when you see the weight of evidence presented.

So clearly it is now time to scrap the proposals on the charity tax. Great to see various Tory MPs calling for this. Well done Ruffley et all. I see no reason at all to have a consultation on this. That was always a Treasury wheeze to try and bury opposition. And far better politically to sort this now.

So I was at the beautiful ruins of the White Church at Brade, deep in the Irish countryside; come to see the grave of my great grandmother who is buried in the Chancel along with her eldest son, my great Uncle William. The phone goes disturbing the rest of the dead; its World at One wanting me to do an interview for the News. Difficult from a graveyard I explained. Fortunately we had sorted our media acevo response and the admirable Dr Kyle was ready to spring into action to defend the sector. A firm line from ACEVO; we want the cap removed. No amount of meddling or fiddling will solve the problem. And the recent NPC research shows the problem this has caused. So let's avoid any siren calls from others in the sector for compromises. It's scrap, not meddle we want.

But back to Great Grandmother! I discover the East window of the Church has collapsed over her grave! But its a very picturesque Gothic ruin, and short of rebuilding the Church not much I can to for GG. But it's a rather lovely spot in any case.

And today, before heading for the Castle I have to tidy up the Limrick vault at Union Hall. Somehow looking after the dead can be less complicated than sorting the problems of the living. So George, do what you know is right. And do it now.

Tuesday 29 May 2012


Have you ever tried to purchase a mackintosh recently? I ask because it seems these days every one wears those waist length coats or anoraks and I like a full length old style mac!

You may be basking in the sun in the dear old UK but here in SW Ireland its the usual delightful light drizzle and I have no rain protection. Shocking admission to be sure...

So I popped into Skibbereen yesterday where I thought the rather old fashioned but charming clothes shops ( they still have a High St here unsullied by nasty supermarkets or mega stores ) would be bound to have a suitable mac. But no. Apparently no demand any more. Perhaps they got a bad reputation?

But my father came to the rescue. He found one in the excellent Skibbereen Animal Refuge charity shop. A bargain, and I contribute to an animal charity which treasury Minister Gaulke would disapprove so thats fine also .

As I've been out and about visiting my many cousins in and around Union Hall ( there are some 70 of varying degrees of cousinage , would you believe! ). The countryside here has a bucolic charm all of its own. Roads largely deserted, which is as well as they tend to small , with pleasant unkempt lawns down the middle ! We spent a happy few hours on an Irish jaunt in the car going down windy lanes to small deserted coves to see the seals.

It may be overcast but it's still beautiful. See here.

Monday 28 May 2012

Right to Bid and Any Questions

I have to admit to a few nerves before the Any Questions on Friday but once I was up on the stage I found I rather enjoyed it. Good to be able to put a charity employer perspective on the Beecroft " report" and to be the only progressive voice on prisoners's votes amidst a sea of reaction; even from old pal Liam Bryne MP.

And the audience were delightful, even including an ACEVO member, who I was able to chat to afterwards at the reception in the Rugby High School common room. I travelled back with Camilla Cavendish and the Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP so a chance to chew the cud and reflect. They both claimed they wouldn't listen to themselves on the Saturday repeat. I certainly did. Noticed my laugh was rather loud and I had far too many "ums" and "ers".

Good for DCLG! They have just launched the "Community Rights" website to coincide with new regulations on community ownership come into force next month.

The site will spotlight changes in the law to help community groups take over buildings or public services, or build new facilities through an abridged planning process.

The website also includes case studies and maps of schemes where community groups took over the running of buildings or services or been involved in designing a new development.

The Community Right to Bid, which comes into force on 27 June, will mean that third sector groups can bid to purchase buildings such as pubs, shops or libraries deemed to be of value to the community.

Important to note that this right applies to all third sector bodies, and not just the local community bodies. We need to ensure there are alliances and partnerships for the bidding process; so this is a natural for national and local charities to team together.

It is vital that we now grasp this new opportunity. It will be problematic as we need funding and sustainable resources to make it work. The Social Investment Business has been working with groups around the country for nearly 10 years supporting third sectors organisations to purchase council buildings and use as community hubs. Loans have been a vital part of the process. They can be incredibly successful in revitalising the local community. But to work they need a sustainable funding stream. Beware the local council wanting to offload a dodgy buidling !

Friday 25 May 2012

Olympic spirit!

It's great watching the progress of the Olympic torch.I have just discovered the torch reaches Lambeth on the day of my next Board. I suspect my Chair might take the view I should be present for that ( board rather than torch!)

But I can see it in Oxford where there is a big jolly in the South Parks. Amidst the gloom of our continuing recession it is good we have both the DJ and Olympics coming up. I was at the Stadium in Stratford this week for a reception to celebrate the Paralympics. It's brilliant. Though I'm afraid they suspended the tube line running as I was leaving! Let's hope they don't do that during the actual Games.

Sporting clubs and associations form a strong part of our third sector and work with millions of volunteers throughout the year. We know in particular the importance of sport to good health and to social cohesion. If the Olympics leave a legacy of increased participation in sport that will be great. Though I have to admit that I'm a non participant. Too old. But my dog walking is legendary!

 Soon be off to Rugby for the appearance! Don't F it up my Deputy tells me encouragingly. Wish I had more time to prepare...... And then next week I'm off to Union Hall in Ireland where I and family will be celebrating another Diamond Jubilee; that of my mother and father. Staying in the Castle at Castle Townsend where an ancestor once ministered to the local souls as Vicar! Back in time for that other Diamond Jubilee!

Thursday 24 May 2012

Jobs, Growth

I have been in Wales talking to ACEVO members as part of our SilverJubilee events. Fascinating to discover that the Welsh Assembly have grasped the nettle on the youth unemployment scandal and have established a Jobs Growth Fund. This will support organisations in the third,private and public sectors to employ young people. Not dissimilar to the much lamented Future Jobs Fund unwisely ditched by DWP ( bet they are regretting that now; as they say decide in a hurry,repent at leisure).

It is clear there is a growing consensus on the need for a more blended approach on austerity v growth. It was good to see Nick Clegg' s interview in the FT where he spoke of the need for growth measures and particularly singled out youth unemployment as a focus. We cannot tolerate youth unemployment at the level it now is. As Nick Clegg knows the prospect is that those unemployed as youngsters may end up long term unemployed and in parts of our country there is cross generational unemployment. This has real impact on social mobility , again as Nick Clegg points out.

So in developing infrastructure growth plans as the Government are now doing let's see how we can target youth unemployment hot spots. The third sector could be a strong driver for growth here as we can employ quickly and effectively and we are based in the exact communities that are particularly badly hit. And how about some cross Governmnet joined up thinking? If you want to tackle anti social behaviour then you cannot only use the criminal justice system , you need early intervention. Exactly what we do. Grow the infrastructure here. How about a massive boost to funds for social investment in youth. Youth bonds perhaps? Link up with European money?

Let's get this issue up the political agenda. There are over one million reasons to do that.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

The sun, bunting, health

I had to do 2 speeches yesterday so as a reward I decided I'd get home early and sit in the garden in the sun. Shocking admission I know. But not entirely work free. I get a call from Eric Pickles MP for a chat. He gave me a very good tip for my appearance on Any Questions! I'm not repeating it here or everyone will do it. He also mentioned that Mrs Pickles had heard me asking my question from the audience at a previous AQ and was impressed! Or so he said!

He asked me if I had put the bunting out for the Jubilee and indeed that is exactly what I was about to do. I have an old aussie friend and his family coming over to stay so I feel its my duty to be patriotic. The Pound shop in Brixton has a nice range of bunting,flags and even a union jack table cloth! So the front of the house is now appropriately decorated. Thoroughly naff in a very English way!

I'm now blogging from an interesting seminar on personal budgets at the Nuffield Foundation where i was speaking on the conclusions of my report on choice and competition. We argued that a deadline be set for the introduction of personal budgets. The DH are currently running a number of pilots and will report on conclusions in October. There will be huge organisational resistance to this but it's essential to a differ met culture in health that puts citizens more in control of their health management , especially for long term conditions.

A report from the NAO today on how the NHS is mismanaging care for diabetes was prescient. 24,000 people dying because the NHS has not provided effective care. A great area for personal budgets? I spoke to a gathering of the GP leads from the new clinical commissioning groups yesterday and flew the flag for the sector. I think the new commissioning arrangements could work well for new providers and for different approaches. But that will require lateral thinking and risk appetite ; not something that our dear DH is entirely at home with. But as I urged them; tell them to bugger off if they try to stifle innovation by all their wretched form filling and process !

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Third Sector Wine

Yes, that's wine not whine! Well the Blogs have all been a bit gloomy of late! So a lighter touch today as I report on my wine tasting last night. But don't think this was a nasty capitalist thing in the City. Oh no; it was the Wine Society- which is third sector as it is a cooperative owned by its members ( of whom I am one) and has been running since 1874 !

So yes , we did have a selection of organic wines! In fact overall there were 50 to choose from and I need to report I did not taste all! From time to time I like to make helpful suggestions on what the Stressed CEO should do to relax so let me give you my wine tip.

Grenache Blanc, Domaine du Bosc 2011 , £5.95 a bottle. A beautiful wine from Languedoc. It is a Society exclusive so order if you are a member....

I was with my old friend and former Boss, Sir Rodney Brooke, who used to run what is now the Local Government Association and Head Hunter Honcho David Fielding. The later even knew the Chair of the Society who he had recruited to something or other! I was asked if there is a " Which guide to charities" by the Chair. An interesting question- I guess acevo membership is a strong indicator of a good charity n'est pas?

Anyway this week I am studying the papers and listening to the news with strange intent for on Friday I appear on the Panel for " Any Questions" on Radio 4. I admit I am somewhat nervous. Please don't ask a question on football I pray or I might be reduced to a pathetic , "who is Ferdinand? "

Monday 21 May 2012

Guaranteeing Fairness?

It is clear that the combination of cuts in public spending , the changes to benefits and welfare payments and council cuts are combining to have real impact on vulnerable citizens and communities.

The coalition government promised that it would implement it's deficit reduction plan in a way that was fair. The evidence from my ACEVO members working at the front line in disadvantage communities is that damage is being done and the combination of cuts and welfare changes are putting people at risk.

Whatever view you take on the current economic debate on austerity or growth. , surely is cuts are to be made the most vulnerable should be protected. MIND report today that calls to their helpline have doubled since the recession.

So together with nearly 200 of my ACEVO members we have written to the Chancellor to urge him to set up a system for auditing proposals for cuts ; "a fairness panel". The OBR are responsible for reviewing the economic effect of deficit reductions. We need a review of how they will impact on fairness.

See the letter here.

See coverage in The Times and Third Sector.

You might have thought I was a health service mystery shopper at the weekend. I spent most of it either at an animal hospital and the vet or at casualty. Both the Hound and I had eye problems , now sorted glad to say. But how interesting that you can easily get to see a vet. I just walked in on a Saturday! What a contract to getting to see a doctor! They don't work at weekends or in the evening. And on occasion even persuading them to see you immediately is a major task. Why is this? Time that doctors started putting patient convenience first ! But ta least I managed to et some rather nice plants at the Charlbury coffee morning! Now to find time to plant them!

Friday 18 May 2012

To the Tower!

I'm sure one of my knightly duties must be to despatch arrant knaves? Obviously I'm opposed to the death penalty but I'd like to send Lord Wallace to the Tower for a penitentiary spell to reflect on his recent foolish remarks.

His crime? He said, à propos supporting the charity tax cap ( 16 May ), “not every single charity is as public-spirited and determined to spend every single penny on public benefit as every other one.”

When the Government first proposed a cap on philanthropic tax reliefs, ministers made similar statements suggesting that dodgy charities were being used as vehicles for tax avoidance. This caused real anger in the charity sector, at the Giving Summit and in private meetings.

David Gauke MP at least apologised for this kind of language and stressed that the Government was not basing policy on the premise that the tax system is being abused by philanthropists and charities working in tandem to defraud the Exchequer. Now I see the idea has returned.

If the Government does believe that there are charities that are not public-spirited, or not spending every penny on public benefit, and whose income it is therefore a good idea to reduce by capping tax reliefs, it needs to tell the public and the Charity Commission which those charities are.

Or perhaps the Government are planning a new policy on gift aid where they only allow relief on charities they approve of? Perhaps they will publish a GAC list; Government Approved Charities? This sort of twaddle from government ministers needs to stop.

Lord Wallace is entitled to give his money where he wishes. I'm entitled to give where I wish to give. And, building on hundreds of years of lawmaking in this area, parliament has set out the criteria charities need to meet if they are to benefit from reliefs such as Gift Aid.

The Government have made a mistake by introducing a cap on philanthropy. They've done quite enough damage as it is. Rather than icing the cake with insults, they should get on and drop the cap.

Thursday 17 May 2012

A la recherche du temps perdu

Yesterday a day of remeberances. I was in a gorgeous medieval church in Hertfordshire for the funeral of an old Lambeth friend. The burial was in a shady spot nestling into a hillside looking out over the glory of an unspoilt English countryside.

Seemingly, as one gets older the ratio of weddings to funerals inverses.

But a few miles away lies the village where my Irish grandmother married her handsome Royal Marine, met as he passed along the cobbled lanes in Union Hall , Co Cork nearly 100 years ago. Harry carried her off and they were married from my Great Grandparents house in Ashwell. And my Great Aunt Marjorie still lives nearby in Hitchin. We went to visit. She is but 5 months from her 100th birthday. And she was cross I had not come with the Hound of which she is particularly fond!

Listening to " Thought for today" on our national treasure the Today programme ( on which I have been known to appear! ) was a reminder of one of the less remembered values of our third sector; solidarity. The Canon was remarking on seeing all the people from the end of the Moonwalk as she walked her dog early morning. This is an all night marathon run through the streets of London in aid of cancer research. As she commented volunteering is a form of solidarity, whether in an organised charity run or by befriending a lonely and isolated pensioner. And she reminded us that isolation and vulnerability will grow as recession bites harder. A reminder of the growing " Forgotten Britain".

As it happens my sister Lucy, my niece Amy and friend John did the moonwalk. Not sure if they saw the Canon? Or her dog?

The work of the great charities , big and small, in organising and supporting volunteers is often unsung. Governments think its all about supply and numbers. They forget how much resource goes into management of professional volunteering. I met Catherine Jonstone, the CEO of the Samaritans ( and ACEVO member naturally ) at the Third Sector business awards on Wednesday ( she was an award winner I'm glad to say) . It's a fine example of a charity that organises thousands of volunteers to provide what is often a service that can make the difference between life and death. You can imagine how much time and effort must go into supporting the volunteers who work the phones. Unsung heroes. That means they need money. Indeed if we are to tackle the problem of a forgotten britain we need more volunteers. The befriending service that AgeUK and others offer to the elderly. Yet those are the services that are often the first to go as cuts bite. The more enlightened councils will reshape their services to encourage more third sector support. There are not enough of them!

And yes, I do like madelaines!

Using our power!

The Church of England and a group of charities have joined together to urge investors to vote during the 2012 AGM season on excessive executive remuneration packags.
With the main part of the 2012 AGM season yet to come, the Daily Telegraph published a letter last week from the Church Commissioners for England and a group of other charity organisations which reminds charity and other investors of the shareholder rights they have at their disposal to shape company practice.

Andreas Whittam Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner, an ACEVO member said: "Until now, charities' contributions to the public debate about the issue of executive remuneration have been fairly muted. However, with the AGM season upon us, the Church Commissioners and a substantial coalition of other charities wish to put their concerns on the record. They feel that this is the right time for charities to make their feelings on the issue known ".

A range of charities have investments of their assetts and endowments. They receive the income and capital returns generated by their investment to support beneficiaries . But they do not always think about how to use the power that this capital asset brings. Whether in voting or in using investmets to promote social aims. The Charity Connission recently relaxed guidance on charity investments so that charities can support social benefit amd we need to use that.

And as these investments tend largely to consist of real assets, including equity holdings, the members of the group hold shares in many of the UK's publicly listed companies. So let's use that power. We can be part of the shareholder uprising that demands companies are more accountable amd that there is an end to a bonus culture which bears no relation to success and rewards failure. In spades.

A great session in Birmingham yesterday. Amazing to hear of whacky new scheme in Birmingham Council called " micro tendering" where they ask for organisations to bid to provide services to each individual social care client. A sort of reverse personal budget policy! Putting the needs of clients first I don't think!

And always fun to hear reminders of how interesting our trustees can be. One member told me of a colleague whose trustees were really concerned about the amount of time she was working in the office and how tired that made her , with travel to and from the office as well, so they decided they would club together to buy her a sofa bed for the office to cut her travelling time. Ah bless

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Lectures and Marchionesses!

I'm in the mood for Lectures! So off to Oxford yesterday for the Marchioness of Winchester's annual Lecture in the Examination Schools!

Bizarre as this may sound I was in Oxford to see one of my nephews Alexander and he suggested I go with him; there was a champagne reception following after all ( this is Oxford naturally ) !

The lecture was being given by Marilynne Robinson, the theologian and author. She was lecturing on Christology. Her masterpiece is the award winning Gilead ( worth reading; I had in fact done so ! ).

And the connection with a archioness? This was in fact Bapsy Parvi, the daughter of a Parsi from Bombay who married the Marquis who was then 90. Not a success and he ran off with someone else and became father ( ! ) to Ian Fleming. In the meantime Bapsy gave herself to good works and was a generous benefactor ( pre gift aid! ) to Oxford. Never suggest my Blog is anything but educating...

An erudite lecture though I have to admit at times somewhat difficult to follow. Lots of incidental arcane info like the fact that the word soul in Latin has the female gender! The audience full of assorted clerics and theologians : not to mention the Bishop of Oxford , who all clearly enjoyed the after lecture drinks!

I had a fun chat with Marillyne about " charity "in the States and the use of respective terms for the sector. She said they don't like to use the term charity as it appears condescending; hence " non profit" though as I said we like the idea of charities making a profit here!

But now its off to Birmingham for another of the ACEVO silver jubilee lunches.

Monday 14 May 2012


" There is no alternative". The mantra used by politicians when anyone queries their economic strategy. Yet people are now questioning just that. France, Greece, Germany and the UK have been giving their verdict in elections.

Let's be clear that whatever one's view of the current Government strategy on the deficit , it is doing serious damage in communities and for vulnerable people.

There is no growth and that means growing unemployment. I have been surprised at how little attention has been given to the huge levels of youth unemployment; but I wonder how long this will last.

A recent report form the national Institute of Economic and Social Research has said that high unemployment will damage the UK.

The UK unemployment rate will rise to almost 9% by the end of 2012, doing "permanent damage to the UK's productive capacity", the think tank says ( 4 May ).

But we know that unemployment also does damage in communities and in social cohesion. So the Government has to think about a strategy to deliver more jobs. They have failed so far. Indeed the recent evidence from the NAO shows that they are spending a fortune on job creation schemes. Time to turn to the third sector and engage us effectively.

ACEVO is now working with a range of local councils in the NE and NW to develop ideas for action. A jobs summit is being planned in both regions. We must act. And in particular so must Government.

The weekend saw the start of the Dulwich Festival so it was a sunny weekend in London for me. The Festival coincides with the magnificent display of rhodedenerons in Dulwich Park; the finest display anywhere in London! Indeed the late Queen Mary would come every year for a viewing. The Hound and I did so Saturday. See the finery in these photos

Friday 11 May 2012

Boards, lunches and lectures!

A full on day Thursday! Starting with a press review on the coverage I was getting on “Forgotten Britain”. Good coverage, especially in the Guardian who had also done a lot of work with ACEVO members to get their stories about the increasing problems that beneficiaries are facing. These were stories emerging from the roundtables we have been holding with members to uncover the scandals of Forgotten Britain and our increasingly marginalised communities. It is part of our job as a leadership body to use ACEVO's huge media profile to get attention to member stories. And good on the Guardian for the work they did to highlight the horror stories.
Then straight into my ACEVO Board. A good meeting, though I was a little under par I thought, in response to some of the debates. Good job I have a talented Director's group to back me up. And indeed correct me on occasion, as when I insisted we didn't do all that exit interview stuff, only to be told of course we do. Oh dear. A strong debate on membership recruitment and retention; a challenge in recessionary times. There was strong support for the hard line and massive profile we have achieved on the charity tax fiasco.
A mad dash for me, my Chair and some of my trustees to an ACEVO learning with leader’s lunch. We were very privileged to have Steve Hilton speaking. Steve very rarely does this type of event but I have been able to develop a good relationship with him over the last year. He is a strong supporter of what we do, whatever the stories and views on him.  It's "Chatham House" and I'd love to tell you some of what he said, particularly on hot topics "de jour". But I shan't. I'm discrete after all (that's irony for you). I wish him well in his future work at Stanford and hope we see him back. He had a strong message for us to continue our advocacy for the ideas behind Big Society, like the need for more open public services. I intend to do just that and it was a theme to my evening lecture....
And as always we had a good lunch, courtesy of the wonderful Andrew Barnet who runs the Gulbenkein Foundation and has been a member of ACEVO for ever. His HQ in Hoxton Sq. is very trendy; lots of great art (and indeed some naf abstract stuff) and good of him to support us lunching there. I'm not a puritan on this matter and I believe if we provide a good repast we get good debate.
And then to Deloitte for the ACEVO 25th anniversary lecture. Yesterday I put up the details so you can read and judge for yourself. Worth though, bringing you some of the comments from Sir Nick Young and Baroness Hayter who responded to my comments.
Nick reminded us of what the sector was like back then. He joined the sector 27 years ago from a good and well paid job in the Law. He regrets the move not a jot and spoke of his pride and joy in working in our sector. He said it was absolutely true that back then people did, as a matter of routine, wear woolly jumpers and open toe sandals. He said a mark of the growth of our sector can be seen in the “woolly jumper index". Not one in the audience at all. And back then it was clear we were marginal not central to society and policy development. We are now heard strongly and not in the incoherent way we behaved back then. So he agreed with me that our role now must be to step up to the plate and be prepared to criticise the Government when they damage our beneficiaries.
But he had a strong message for us. Whilst the staffing and leadership of the sector has become so much more professional, our governance arrangements have not moved on. We have modernised our infrastructure but our governance is still in need of professionalising.
Diane Hayter, Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, who today has taken on the front bench role for Labour in the Lords on the Cabinet Office (so including us!). She was one of the founders of ACEVO when she was CEO of Alcohol Concern.
She said back then there was a glory in being amateur. Professionalism was seen as a sell out. Indeed, there was little acceptance of leadership, which was seen as hierarchical and elitist. Back then there were plenty of collectives rather than CEOs.
Strong evidence of the progress we have made in 25 years. So plenty to celebrate and we adjourned for celebratory drinks. Nick is right. It is a joy to be a third sector CEO. I love the ACEVO job. We have a great and wonderful membership (yes sometimes they can be demanding!) who provide ACEVO with the power to argue our case nationally.
I was talking about “Wind in our sails". I had been forbidden to use a rather splendid quote from Dolly Parton by my Policy Director but I used it in debate anyway. “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." A third sector Leader has that job. Being innovative. Finding different ways to deliver. And sometimes tacking our sails to the prevailing winds and sometimes standing against them!
Home late. Happy.

Thursday 10 May 2012

The Silver Jubilee Lecture

Tonight I'm giving a lecture to celebrate ACEVO's silver jubilee. For those who can't get there feel free to open up this link to read:

Forgotten Britain

Coverage in today's Guardian of what many ACEVO members have been sharing with us - their fear that public spending cuts and a worrying scrutiny deficit mean we are in danger of creating a "forgotten Britain":


Wednesday 9 May 2012

A disgrace!

Today 's Queen's Speech will contain one glaring omission. No Social Care Bill. The Government, like the last one, are going to duck the issue yet again. A disgrace because reform is crucial. And long overdue.

It is good to see that the sector has geared up to campaign for change. The Care and Support Alliance, led by the determined Simon Gillespie, CEO of MS and an active ACEVO member seeks to secure a sustainable funding outcome for social care and reform which makes the social care system fit for the next 20 years. Together with 85 CEOs and others I signed a joint letter to the PM published in the Daily Mail yesterday. This has demonstrated the unprecedented level of consensus across the sector for the need for action on social care. This was mirrored in very extensive press coverage.

We have achieved several important outcomes to date and we have more to come. This is just one piece of coverage that Simon did that was used extensively;

It shows the Daily Mail front page that we secured and a very moving case study that highlights our need to get the care system better funded and reformed.

Tweet out to No. 10

Our open letter has also been accompanied by a massive tweet out to No.10.

Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech should have been the occasion for action. It will instead only promise wishy washy talk in a White Paper, so the Care & Support Alliance will need to intensify the campaign. ACEVO will be fully behind this and working with Simon closely to push the case for change.

Publication of the White Paper

The Queens Speech will promise one. Views vary about when this might be published anything from late May onwards. A dispiriting press report says the Government are scratching around for ideas . Anything but implement Dilnot.

Here is a chance for the Cameron Government to be truly radical and make a decisive mark on the future direction of the country. It is time for Leadership from the PM on this. Do it , David!

Monday 7 May 2012

News from France.

Great news from France. Have spent the morning sending my congratulations to my Euclid colleagues in France , who were all firm Hollande supporters. There must now be hope that the forces against growth and creating employment opportunity are on the retreat. The recent election results in the UK should also point to a rethink about how we should be tackling the deficit. With unemployment , especially amongst young people so high , and growing , there must be an alternative. Our third sector voice must be heard demanding action to support those in our communities who are suffering the hard effects of this recession.

Friday 4 May 2012


BTCV has been working for over 50 years to help local people reclaim green places.led by the indefatigable Tom Flood , ACEVO trustee , they are one of our foremost third sector bodies.  From May 1st, they have a different way of introducing ourselves! So farewell then BTCV!   Right now, with cuts in public expenditure, and one third of the UK's natural assets in danger of being lost or degraded, our work is more important than ever.     For a long time, people have had difficulty with the ghastly jumble of initials that make up their name.   The full name "British Trust for Conservation Volunteers" was long winded and they badly needed to simplify the way in which they were introduced and the arrival of a new Chair , Rita Clifton provided the spur!   So hello The Conservation Volunteers !  See the new website at , where you can see a short film explaining why they have made the change, and a copy of Roots,the supporters magazine, which has news about the work being carried out by conservation volunteers all over the country.   Even I have volunteered with them. Recently on their " Green Gym" at Regents Canal and a few years back doing planting in Doncaster where Ed Miliband and I planted 2 oak trees. I have to say I had to help Ed with his spade work. He was clearly more of a townie than I was! The trees are doing well. Thrusting forward and ever upward!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Coping and Lectures!

It was good to see a news report from the British Heart Foundation which revealed that its charity shops division had its most successful year to date by making a profit of £31m in 2011-2012.

This is an increase of £5m on 2010-2011 and a 3.1 per cent increase in like for like sales.

Speaking to members in our recent silver jubilee meetings it has been clear that charity shops run by our members, whether the big nationals, or local charities and hospices, have been doing well. But it is clear this is a sign of a deep economic problem; rising unemployment and the recession.

And of course this means growing demand on the services our sector offers. Yet despite this we know that cuts in support from Government are hitting hard. We know that the next public spending round will hit harder. Interesting to see Guardian reports that IDS is warning the treasury about the danger of any further cuts in welfare support. Strength to his arm I say. We will need all the support we can get if we are to support the communities that rely on our sector the most.

Next week I am giving our SilverJubille Lecture. On May 10 at 6.15pm at Deloitte (Auditorium), 2 New Street Square, 1st Floor Client Suite, London, EC4A 3BZ.   I am going to reflect on the challenge ahead for our sector and the challenges society is now facing.

Baroness Diane Hayter, one of ACEVO founders, and Sir Nick Young will be responding. Nick joined the sector from a promising legal career back in acevo's founding year and he is going to reflect on the changes he has seen since then.

It will be an interesting evening. If you would like to come along email  I look forward to seeing you. It's free by the way. And a drinks reception to celebrate!

Tuesday 1 May 2012

The health time bombs!

I may have blogged this before, but long term conditions take over 70% of the entire health budget. And yet the NHS deals very badly with them.

Just before Easter I had a very agreeable dinner with Barbara Young, the CEO of Diabetes UK.

As she told me, Diabetes will consume £16.9bn of the NHS's budget and threaten to "bankrupt" the service within a generation because so many people are being diagnosed with the disease.

The cost of treating it will soar from £9.8bn as the number of diabetics rises from 3.8 million to 6.25 million by 2035, a new study by Diabetes UK published recently shows.

The research was conducted by five health economists from the York Health Economics Consortium.their findings reveal that the condition is "an unfolding public health disaster" .

The report shows that without urgent action, the already huge sums of money being spent on treating diabetes will rise to unsustainable levels that threaten to bankrupt the NHS, The NHS needs to heed expert advice and improve its care of diabetics, especially to reduce the number who develop complications such as kidney failure, strokes and amputations.

Perhaps the most shocking part of this report is the finding that almost four-fifths of NHS diabetes spending goes on treating complications that in many cases could have been prevented. The failure to do more to prevent these complications is both a tragedy for the people involved and a damning indictment of the failure to implement the clear and recommended solutions. Unless the government and the NHS start to show real leadership on this issue, this unfolding public health disaster will only get worse.

The research also examined the costs of diabetes to the UK as a whole. Once loss of working days, early death and informal care costs are factored in this will rise from £23.7bn to £39.8bn by 2035-36, the co-authors found after studying evidence on trends in diabetes collated by bodies such as the Office of National Statistics, hospitals and the NHS's public health observatory service.

Deaths from diabetes in 2010-11 alone led to the loss of over 325,000 working years, for example, according to the report. The number of people in the UK over 17 diagnosed with diabetes rose from 2.2 million in 2006 to 2.9 million last year.

And who has the answer to tackling long term conditions like diabetes? Not hospitals , that's for sure!