Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ed & David, dancing and demand for loans

Who was it organised a breakfast fringe on the day after the Acevo - community party?  It was fun. We were delighted that Ed Miliband made his only trip to fringe events last night to speak at our event. He paid tribute to the work Acevo does and, in particular, to our campaign on the charity tax.

It has become the must do party now!  And people flock in to see the Leader of the third sector lead off the dancing!  Last year it was me and Anne McQuire MP first on the floor. And Anne was back at the party last night but when I announced we would be repeating our dancing triumphs Anne had strangely disappeared.

But I was not deterred and grabbed the estimable Carina McKeown,  formerly acevo now Beat Bullying. We set the trend and it was much commented upon; Richard Hawkes, Acevo member and SCOPE Chief said to me "Stephen, do the third sector a favour, carry on dancing "  or it may have been "stop "but it was very noisy). 

One of the keynote events of Conference  was our Acevo - City+Guilds Fringe on youth unemployment with David Miliband, who chaired the Acevo Commission on this. He was on superb form. Commanding, on top of the brief and engaging with the questioners.

He argued that we need local action on youth unemployment. There is "Small beer from national governent on all this."

He argued that there is not yet a sense of national crisis about this. So little political pressure. Our job to raise awareness and acevo one of key players in this.

At the Conference Liam Byrne MP announced 10 local commissions are being set up . Local coalitions to work on solutions . Councils can pioneer job guarantees. And they can lead partnerships for job creation and better training opportunities. 

Already Acevo has been working on job Summits- 2 further ones are organised for N London and Manchester. We are working with Birmingham City Council to back a major Council initiative on youth jobs.

And then it was off to the Acevo event with the Labout team in the Lords. Worked up by Peter Kyle and Lord Bassam last year - the aim was to talk with third sector attendees at the conference on how to use the Lords for campaigning. It was so successful last year we repeated it. And it was standing room only. We now need to do similar events at the Tories and Lib-Dems Conferences.

And this morning it was the Social Investment Business fringe with the New Statesman. I was talking about the letter I have just sent to Francis Maude MP on the need for loans now.

Worth repeating the letter here; 

" Last week we heard of plans for a new state bank and much talk of stimulating industry, in particular SMEs, to encourage a growing economy.

As you know, our sector is now major source of employment and a key deliverer of crucial services, yet there appears to be no plans to encourage or stimulate our sector to play its part in a growth strategy.

The Social Investment Business (SIB) is currently surveying third sector organisations including its investees and potential investees. Of the 188 current respondents, 169 have financing needs in order to grow. Their total demand for finance is £343m. Most of these cannot access finance yet more than 70% would take a loan or another form of repayable finance.

Access to simple debt finance for our sector needs a step-change if the sector is to achieve its potential of supporting economic recovery. Big Society Capital is providing a welcome injection of capital into the market but is not structured to provide simple loans into the sector quickly and at scale. The banks who were risk averse to our sector even before the financial crash are now even more difficult to access. That means the lenders who are willing make straightforward loans are few and far between.

It’s time the Government acted. We need access to loans so that we can step up to the challenges we all face. As the CBI report last Monday indicated, there are still many savings that could be made if we diversified more of our public services. Many of the business surveyed by SIB want to expand in this area. We should support them.

I believe that one solution to this would be for the new state bank to dedicate a ring fenced fund to provide new growth generating loans into the sector quickly and at scale. I would be happy to discuss this issue, but I believe action is required now as currently we risk failing to capitalise on the sector's potential contribution to growth."

Glad to say the FT covered this prominently this morning!

Stephen Bubb

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