Friday 29 June 2012

The No 10 cat ?

A meeting at No 10 this morning and the cat is sitting on the windowsill. As you can see..

But I'm not sure if this is the Cameron cat or the Osborne cat , because recently the Osborne's lost moggie turned up in Notting Hill and has been reunited with the occupants of No 11.

So is this theNo11 cat?

Answers on a postcard please. And a signed copy of the most recent excellent Bubb Lecture to the first with the answer!

The Observer, weddings and wicked lotteries...

Now I don't want you thinking I'm partial when it comes to my Sunday newspapers; so having being lunched by the Sunday Times yesterday it was the turn of the Observer and Daniel Boffey, the policy editor.
A great little restaurant off Chancery Lane with tables to sit and enjoy the somewhat rare appearance of the sun.

It's always fascinating talking to journalists- not just for the chance to dangle news morsels but because they always have a fascinating store of stories and insight into current events.We had a good natter about my time writing the competition report...I really ought to write a book on it!

And to round off the day it was off to Morden for the wedding of old friends. This was the register office version; they have a proper full-on Muslim wedding in Morocco in August ! Great Brixton Reception on Acre Lane, then off for dinner with Headhunter Honcho David Fielding. So to make up for excess consumption its a puritan weekend ...

                                                   Jy and Delilah wed- Merton

And don't think it was all happy abandonment yesterday . I'm working on the campaign to get our Olympics cash back. Started off by the feisty Debra Alcock-Tyler we need to notch this up a gear. And it's right for ACEVO to push this as we have been staunch defenders of the lottery. I'm proud we were leading the fight against the Desmond health lottery. If ACEVO does not speak truth to power then that is a poor reflection on all CEOs!but its gone a bit quiet hasn't it! Perhaps that is because the desmond lottery failed to meet their target on the money they would give to health charities. And its not widely known but they have had the cheek to apply for a licence to run on line casinos- How you can reconcile running addictive casino games and support health charities goodness only knows!

I am seeing the Gambling Commission soon to let them know my views on all this. The judicial review on their decision to licence a direct competitor to the national lottery - despite the intentions of Parliament- starts soon. Fingers crossed this sorts it out. It's important not just in terms of the Desmond lottery but because if the Gambling Commission get away with licencing any attempt to compete at national level with the Lottery then it might fatally undermine the amount that is raised for good causes.

And to complete the hat trick let's get Jeremy Hunt to do the decent thing on Olympics cash.

Thursday 28 June 2012

We want our money back.....

A rather splendid lunch at the National Portrait Gallery ( keeping money in our own dear third sector !) with the Home Affairs Editor of the Sunday Times. An old friend, Nick Hellen is a talented and dogged reporter , always on the look out for a good story!! But one that also shapes the news as well as reporting it. Not sure if I obliged as Nick likes a whiff of trouble and I'm just deeply respectable.....and I went from lunch to the Social Investment Business for our Board meeting followed by an informal dinner to talk strategy.

Fun to catch up over turbot with my Vice Chair , Harriet Baldwin MP , a rising star on the Tory back benches and my tip for top office when David gets round to a Reshuffle. You can even gets odds on her at Ladbrokes for Party Leader she tells me ( though advising me not to bother with a bet!).

We need much more focus on the scandal of the government trying to hand over underspend on the Olympics to the Treasury rather than as promised , back to the lottery good causes funds. But we also need to highlight and condemn other politicians like the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, who urged the government to use the £500m underspend from the Olympics to cover the cost of scrapping a 3p increase in fuel duty.
There is a clear need for a major campaign to get this money back to the good causes fund from whence it was stolen.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Clegg and ACEVO on youth unemployment

Today Nick Clegg is launching a new initiative on youth unemployment that is based on the ACEVO commission on youth unemployment , chaired by David Miliband. One of the key findings of the report was that youth unemployment can be entrenched in communities and even in times of growth and prosperity there are hot spots of heavy youth unemployment. So action needs to be targeted on those hotspots.

Nick Clegg has accepted that finding and today announces a new initiative amd list of hotspots where action wil be taken. Worth reading what Nick Clegg has said ,

" Of course, I'm always open to other ideas and proposals. No one organisation or political party has a monopoly of wisdom here. And the gravity of this problem demands us to be both restless and collaborative. David Miliband, who I understand is speaking later today, has done a lot of detailed work on this. He recently produced an excellent report with ACEVO - the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Associations.........

I was, however, very much struck by another insight from David's report: youth unemployment hot spots. Youth unemployment is a national problem but it is more acute in certain places. Maybe inner city areas with high levels of disadvantage, rural communities where businesses are struggling to take people on, former mining towns at the sharp end of industrial decline. Whatever the reason, these are the toughest parts of the country to be young, down, and out.

There are different ways of determining exactly what counts as a hotspot. We identify them as the nine Jobcentre Plus districts, covering 20 local authority areas with the highest rates of long-term youth unemployment and the lowest rates of return to work. And I can announce today that we will be targeting these areas with renewed urgency. For a simple reason: these are the young people who are hardest to reach, in the labour markets that are hardest to crack and they cannot be made to wait.

So, in these places we're bringing the wage subsidy forward. Instead of coming in at nine months, it will come in at six. At this stage, three months can make all the difference. When you feel like your banging your head against a brick wall, when you live in an area where opportunities are already few and far between, another 12 weeks of rejection letters, of being cut off, of sitting at home waiting, worrying, that can seriously knock the stuffing out of you, making it extremely difficult to pick yourself up. So job centres will be able to make use of the subsidy before people are referred to the Work Programme, capitalising on their links with local employers. And they'll also intensify support: so more training, more regular coaching, spending more time with young people to knock a CV into shape or prep ahead of an interview.

We are publishing the full list of youth unemployment hot spots today and the extra help will be on offer by the end of July. The hot spots are where you'd expect them to be: the Midlands, the North, South Wales, parts of Scotland. This is all part and parcel of our bigger agenda of rebalancing the economy; of taking on the North/South divide.


We started with the Work Programme; we introduced the Youth Contract; now we're homing in on youth unemployment hot spots. Action that is targeted; urgent; always looking to do more, Government working hardest for the people and places that have been hardest hit."

Congratulations to Clegg for taking action on this idea. And ACEVO itself is pursuing the recommendations in the Miliband report , in particular we are working with local councils in the NE and the NW on Job Summits.

And worth noting the work that our very own Ralph Michell , ACEVO's Director of Policy and Strategy did on this Commission report. The report is well written and well argued. Indeed only last week a member of the House of Lords was commenting that the report was the best thing he had read on youth unemployment.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

No, it's not new!

There is a temptation to think that " new and shiny" is better than tried and tested. Our sector can be prone to the chasing a fad because money is so short and this must always be watched. That is not to say that we must not always be looking for new ways of delivering services, seeing if there are innovative ways to do more for less and improve services and demonstrate our impact in doing so.

As Blog readers know I'm an advocate of social finance. It will not work for everyone but it may be a valuable new tool in our funding toolbox. It's amazing to someone who has been in the business of making social loans for 7 years to see how suddenly social loans are the latest trend. Everyone talking about it. Even Europe has discovered them though they have only a vague idea what a loan is as opposed to one of their torturous grant schemes.

It is always worth remembering there are very few things that are entirely new. Social loans are not a new discovery. In our UK sector they date back to at least 1361. The then Bishop of London , left 100 pounds in his will that we placed in a chest in St Pauls to form a loan fund. Any " poor but industrious " person was able to borrow , at no interest , up to 10 pounds and repayable in one year.

In the 16th century it became common practice in the City ofLondon for wealthy merchants to leave sums of money to be used as loans to individuals to enable them to go into an apprenticeship ( early social entrepreneurs!). There is also evidence of bequests being used to provide bonds to relieve poverty.

Yet another example of our sector being innovative. But let's also remember we have been doing it for centuries!

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Good Governance for all

Last week saw the launch of a website promoting two codes of good governance: ‘Good Governance - A code for the voluntary and community sector’, and a second version aimed specifically at smaller organisations.

ACEVO worked with other sector umbrella bodies to develop the Codes, which provide a set of practical principles showing how an effective board can provide good governance and leadership.

The website is an easily accessible, single location of the essentials any third sector organisation needs to begin its journey, or refresh and improve its approach, towards good governance. The website hosts supporting tools and resources to turn the theory of good governance into practice and useful case studies bring to life the transformative impact of using the Code.

ACEVO’s last Pay Survey found that 74% of chief executives use the Code in their own organisations- so if you haven’t used it yet, log on to and try it out!

Monday 18 June 2012

Euclid grows...

I'm blogging from Oporto in Portugal. We are having a Euclid board meeting and strategy awayday with one of our key supporters, the Portugese social innovation network; the foundation Porto Social, run by the wonderful Carlos Azevedo.

Since it was set up some 6 years ago Euclid- as a network of european civil society leaders has grown exponentially. Its aim is to promote and develop the leaders of Europ's growing civil society. And who can doubt as the political leaders of europe talk about concentrating more power and control in central EU institutions that we need a counterveiling force. The calls for a fiscal union run counter to the need for a more decentralised Europe and one where the institutions belong to the people of Europe rather than its institutions. Euclid has managed to develop strong links inside the Brussels based organisations and in the Commission and we have used these to promote the relevance and power of civil society and to promote the ideas of social innovation and social finance.

Our Portugese partners are based in a rather splendid building, the Quinta de Bonjoia; an 18th century mansion that has been converted by the Oporto Municipaliy into a hub for social innovation.


So a Board meeting and strategic debate on Euclid's growing role conducted in a social innovation hub in an ancient building which sums up both the strong roots of europe's civil society dating back over the millennia, and our potential to foster change and innovation!

Yesterday was however more a day for socialising and enjoying the delights of a glorious Portuguese city. I had lunch at the Oporto cricket and Lawn Tennis club; cricket was being played; emphasising this cities strong British links through the Port trade we established here.

And I'm staying in a rather splendidly quirky B+B; the Castello San Caterina where I'm in a room in the tower; all for the princely sum of £50. Book it if you ever come here; I recommend it!

Saturday 16 June 2012

A Commanding Presence!

Lesley-Anne Alexander is now to Command the British Empire. Entirely appropriate for a former judo black belt!

Great news today to see my Chair honoured in today's Birthday Honours with a CBE.

In addition to her role at RNIB, Lesley-Anne has been Chair of ACEVO, for nearly 4 years . In her role as Chair I've seen her as passionate about developing the individual abilities of sector CEO's, ensuring that talent amongst emerging leaders is both recognised and nurtured so that our sector’s impact is maximised for the generations that follow.

She is also noted for her drive in developing relations between ncvo and ACEVO and it is her inspiration that will lead to our move in the first week of September into our new office in ACEVO-ncvo towers!

In fact Lesley- Anne is the third of my chairs to receive a CBE. The first was the redoubtable Geraldine Peacock, then the Osborne slayer John Low. She has demonstrated fantastic thought leadership. In particular through her determination to assert the collective power of the sector to bring about changes to the way our country is governed for the better.

I admire Lesley-Anne both as the feisty leader of one of the world’s great charities , as a determined chair of ACEVO battling for the sector as a whole, and as a thoroughly likeable and amusing colleague.

As a CEO who you get as a Chair can occasionally be a lottery. The CEO- chair role is central to how a charity operates effectively. If it goes wrong it can be a disaster. I've been lucky with my Chairs and I can tell you working with Lesley Anne has been great!

Friday 15 June 2012

It's ours Jeremy

The recently announced £476m Olympics underspend is owed to Britain’s charities and to the communities they support.

Hundreds of millions of lottery cash was taken from the lottery good cause pot to fund the Olympics . The Government have said any money goes back to HMT. No . That is wrong and I am delighted that the Directory of Social Change are campaigning on this. They have ACEVO's support. Indeed it is clear there is a promise to return this money and I want the Commons sport , media and culture select committee to review this urgently.

Speaking about the Olympics budget on BBC, Hugh Robertson MP, Minister for Sport and the Olympics said that ‘all being well we should be able to hand half a billion pounds back to the Treasury’.Jeremy Hunt better correct him quickly.

Not without controversy, billions have gone to support the Games from lottery revenues – and the Big Lottery Refund campaign aims to get £425 million of this raided cash refunded to the Big Lottery Fund, which supports charities and community groups doing vital work across Britain.

DSC has developed a website to support the campaign,, to gather and mobilise supporters in the run up to the Games and beyond if necessary. I'm afraid Ministers have short memories about where money came from. And indeed there were promises that the legacy , including assets , would be returned to the sector from whose money this came.

This is in no way an attack on the Olympics , which promise to be a great success and which have great public support. But asTessa Jowell was explaining recently , the Treasury never backed the Olympics. They advised against us hosting and on many occasions made life difficult for the organising committee. As the money was drawn from the good cause allocation from the lottery , then any surplus must first come back to the lottery. I trust the Big Lottery fund will be making a strong protest. Over to you Mr Wanless ( as I said to him at the charity awards!) .

I was making this point ( and others) to various people last night at the star studded civil society Charity Awards at the Grosvenor ; Including Francis Maude who I was sitting next to at the dinner! Always useful to bend a Minister's ear when they are entre course!These award events are always good ways to recognise the work of great charities but I always cheer loudest for my own members. And my Chair Lesley Anne is one of the judges . I had to do quick change after an interview for Channel 4 news, which they kindly came and filmed in my garden so that I could do the obligatory black tie change afterwards. It would have been somewhat decadent to appear on channel 4 in full regalia , especially sitting under my prolific grape vine ( not yet at the stage where I might be producing Vin Chateau Brixton though ) !

Oh , and I reckon ( good sleuthing work by Matthew Thompson!) Robin Bogg was sitting on table 50. Not quite as prominent as me on top table but there you go....

Thursday 14 June 2012

Citizen service and No 10

Always fun to bump into Emma-Jane Cross, the ebullient CEO of Beat Bullying. We were both going into No 10 for a reception to mark the role of the third sector in proving children and young people services. We were both remarking somewhat irreverently on current state of charity affairs. Fortunately I spotted the PM bearing down on me before I said anything too shocking! We had a word before he shot off to "do some homework" as he put it( Leveson looming as it was).

The reception , apart from being jolly and full of ACEVO members , had a serious import. The PM was launching a review of the national citizen service to look at how to take it forward. And indeed how to develop voluntary servcies for the 10 to 20 age group more generally. It is being led by Amanda Jordan ( an old colleague from national lottery charities board days) and Julia Cleverdon. This is an excellent and canny move by No 10. I have to say that Cameron looked remarkably relaxed and gave a very good speech about the role of the sector. It was good to hear him praising the " thousand flowers of inspiration" in the sector. He at least understands the strength of our diversity, as opposed to those who say we need tidying up and merging.

Many of us in the sector like the idea of a citizen service for all 16 year olds but I think had questions about the very top down centralist model being adopted which was strangely at odds with the general localist approach they were taking elsewhere. The reality is that we need a range of models and solutions for 16 year olds that recognises the very diverse outlook and aspirations of this age group . They don't all want summer camps or outward bound!

So ACEVO will be gathering views from members to feed into Amanda and I've already talked to her about how we do this. Anyhow nice to emerge from No 10 into the sunlight and go home and sit in the garden! The weeds look splendid.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Hutton, Tessa and Keynes

Will Hutton looked a bit surprised; he had just spotted me sitting at the back of the room in a seminar for students at Hertford College, Oxford, where he is Principal. He was hosting a session on the Olympics with Tessa Jowell MP ( who can be credited with brining them to the UK ).

I was up in Oxford for a few days staying with my nephew Alex who is doing his PhD at Hertford, and I thought it would be fun to pop in. And we had dinner on High table afterwards so had a good natter with both Will and Tessa. As I told Alex I knew Tessa before he was even born!

Will is a great raconteur and brain. We were discussing why Keynes was so out of fashion and agreed that in fact Keynes was right. It is madness for all major economies to deflate and cut spending at the same time. What the UK needs is major investment in growth. What we get is further spending cuts and more unemployment leading to further recession and rising spending on welfare. A self defeating circle of decline.

An interesting few days off. I even discovered an Oxford Church ( St Albans) with Stations of the Cross by Eric Gill; the very last commission he received.

Never really off duty I get an email from the office to see if I want to respond to a loony report from the ineptly named " Institute of Economic Affairs". About sock puppets. Even a primary school class could demolish the inane arguments in their latest pamphlet. Decide can't be arsed to respond to something so silly- and it only encourages them.

I met up with the new Cabinet Secretary on Friday evening. As I said to Jeremy Haywood as he ushered me into his office he is my 4th Cabinet Secretary ; wondering as I did so whether I sounded like the Queen talking about her 11 prime ministers! An urbane, smart and likeable person he holds an important position of influence and I have always found it good to develop strong relations with the top of the civil service. We spent a long time discussing where we have got to on opening up public services and expanding the role of the third sector.

I said we needed to add some vigour to this agenda as the impression has gained ground that it has stalled. ACEVO is working on some ideas and proposals to reignite the battle for sector delivery. The economic and social arguments for more sector delivery are so strong it is hard to understand why this is not expanding at a faster rate.

Friday 8 June 2012

The chief executive summit

Every year ACEVO holds a Summit for third sector CEOs . It's a chance for CEOs to get together , and the underlying theme is around leadership development. If you are leading an organisation , at whatever the level , you need to hone leadership skills. I'm afraid it's something we often neglect.

This year , the ACEVO CEO Summit is taking place on 06 July 2012.

We thought this year it would be good to have some serious academic input to discussion so we have Vice Chancellor and CEO of London Met Uni Professor Malcolm Gilles and Professor Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, London Business School.

More specifically we will discuss;

• ‘Doing things right’ and ‘doing the right things’ - why we must manage as well as lead…

• The need for management innovation - what does it look like, why do we need it and how can we do it?

• Improving organisational performance with employee-centred management systems

The conference will also launch ACEVO's latest publication on the strategic side of reserves management. Sounds boring? But any CEO knows that reserves are a crucial aspect of management of an organisation. Too large and you are not delivering effectively , too small and you risk termination!

For the full agenda or to book please visit or email

Thursday 7 June 2012

Innovation in funding

The disability charity Scope , led by charismatic Richard Hawkes (ACEVO member naturally)became the first big national charity to issue bonds this week when it closed the first issue of its £20m programme.

The £2m raised by the first tranche of bonds will go towards plans to open 100 new charity shops over the next five years and expand its fundraising programmes to recruit more regular donors.

Investors in the bonds include the investment management firm Rathbones, the grant-making charities the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and the social investor Panahpur.

Investors will earn 2 per cent interest a year and the bonds mature in three years, when their investment will be repaid.

The issue comes after the registration of Scope’s bond programme on Euro MTF Stock Exchange Luxembourg last year.This is exciting news. I hope many more of my members running the big national charities will look at this as a way to expand their work at a time when things are difficult financially. The Social Investment Business is talking to some of their CEOs . This may not be appropriate for all , but we know that the private sector grows through access to capital. As a further tool in the funding box the idea of loans is a sensible option.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Leadership as diligence

I have to admit it was a sluggish start to work today. Jubilated out. A week's abstinence from the grape is called for!

I had a ring side view for the river pageant; front of Lambeth bridge. And what a spectacle that was. The Royal Barge with the backdrop of the Palace of Westminster; the sounds of the jubilee bells peeling and the rain ( perhaps a mistake to wear my panama? ).

But the highlight for me was the service of thanksgiving in St Paul's. An interesting reflection on leadership in the Archbishop's sermon. Quoting St Paul ( Romans 12 ),

" We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us...the leader, in diligence ".

The Kings James version has it, " he that ruleth , with diligence "

Looking up the meaning we get " earnest and persistent application to an undertaking" or "persevering determination".

We don't often think of leadership in those terms. More of inspiration or charisma. Diligence sounds so boring; a rather victorian word one used to see in school reports , " Bubb needs to be more diligent in his homework". After all I often argue attention to detail is someone else's job.

But its an interesting reflection. It is the job of the Chief Executive to be diligent ( "persevering determination ") in pursuing the mission of the organisation , maintaining values and checking that the overall strategy is being achieved. I don't think St Paul was suggesting checking all the labels on the envelopes are the right way up , but was saying a leader has to deliver and be.

And the sector certainly demonstrated diligence in securing the scrapping of the charity tax! So leadership as diligence I like!

Friday 1 June 2012

No Doctor , Yes George

The Castle has wifi so reviewing the papers with satisfaction this morning. This is an historic victory for our sector and we can all take credit for getting what the Standard described as " the hated charity tax" scrapped. But important to recognise that it took guts to climb down and I thought the tone of comments from our sector leaders was the right one.

If anyone deserves to be singled out for praise though , it is John Low of CAF. He has played a blinder on this. My former Chair , John was a superb head of RNID where his campaign on digital hearing aids was a classic third sector example of how to use lobbying to improve services.

How sad to see the BMA losing it. Their decision to call doctors out on strike is a massive miscalculation. There will be no sympathy for one of the most highly paid group of professionals in the land ; and also one of the least customer focused. Many doctors are paid more than the Prime Minister and yet hardly any surgeries are open in the evenings and at weekends, so those of us who work must take time off to attend a surgery. And that's not to mention the ridiculous performance you have to go through to get an appointment on the phone . Emails appear to be a no go area for many doctors. A friend of mine recently complained to their doctor about opening hours only to be told , " what you think we are like a supermarket ". Um yes might be a good idea Doctor!

And the evening celebrations at the Castle for Ma and Pa went swimmingly! Lots of cousins , and we were even joined by the Head of the Irish Somerville Clan from Drishane up the road. I'd popped in earlier for a chat with Tom Somerville the seventh. Tom Somerville the first had arrived in Ireland on an open boat as a child of 2 with his parents and brother fleeing the presbyterian persecutions in Scotland in 1692. That Tom is my grandfather x 6. And how excellent to see the oil paintings of him and his wife Anne Neville hanging at Drishane.

The Rev Thomas
Anne Neville