Friday 31 January 2014

Friday Fun with The Sunday Times

We received the following email from a reporter at the Sunday Times on the day after the Lobbying Act was passed. In the interests of transparency and openness, we publish our answers puiblcally below:

Dear xxxxx,

I'm a reporter on the Sunday Times and I wondered if you could help me out with the following. My deadline is this afternoon.

Is it correct that the charity receives £415,000 from the Office of Civil Society?

No. This figure is two years old. In the year referred to, ACEVO received around two thirds directly. The rest goes straight to other organisations. We are the lead partner in a coalition responsible for this funding and we disburse the funding immediately as part of that role. This funding has decreased year on year and from April this funding will cease as part of the Government cutting its strategic partner programme. Please see the table below.

Also received £234,197 from the Department of Health?

No. That’s an out of date figure. The financial year just gone saw us receive 195k. The coming financial year will see us receive 190k. Again, see the table below.

And received a £37,564 Lottery grant.

Yes, though of course this isn’t government funding.

Can you confirm if the charity receives 30 per cent of it's funding from the government? No that is incorrect. Per the table below:


OCS 230

DH 195


Government total 425

Total income (approx.) 2m

Percentage of total 21% .

As of next year the OCS grant will reduce to 0, leaving an overall percentage of 10%.

Can you answer the following: Are you worried about the amount of government funding effecting your independent judgement?

I think anyone who saw the extent to which our sector has come together to agitate against the attempt to muzzle charities and campaign groups during the passage of the lobbying bill, would realise that as a sector we are uncompromising in protecting our independence.

Are you worried about the pressure on charities from the government to do as they ask them to for fear of losing their funding?

As the leading voice of the sector, ACEVO is always vigilant against government actions that serve to muzzle or pressure charities. And we will never refrain from speaking out against them, in our sector’s interests.

kindest regards!

DWP v Trussell Trust.

Many in our sector have been shocked by the behaviour of DWP towards the Trussell Trust. How extraordinary that a charity that is the embodiment of David Cameron's "Big society" ideal should be smeared and attacked in the way it has been. A Christian charity, volunteer led and with voluntary, not Government contributions is doing superb work at the sharp end of poverty.

My church in Charlbury supports the West Oxfordshire food bank- it’s in Mr Cameron's constituency (where today he entertains M. Hollande in a local gastropub I much enjoy myself!). I think many of us who do support food banks will wonder what is going on. Why refuse to meet with them?

For those who want to follow this sad tale the splendid article by Patrick Butler in Guardian Society says it all.

Thursday 30 January 2014

What do we want?

In Leeds to meet with members to talk about our "ask" from the Parties in the election campaign. It's  clear this will be a close-run election. All to play for. So a chance to push our big ideas on what Governments need to do to advance our role. Let's face it, the 3 parties have precious little narrative so on the third sector. Disappointing when you consider how important a role we now play.
Big discussion on where the public service debate has got to. What advances we have made; a patchy record in the Work Programme for example. But also a feeling that there are opportunities. For example our member from a local hospice was looking at new developments. A lot of discussion on bad practice in commissioning, particularly mass bureaucracy (and that included some harsh words for the Big Lottery Fund).

When we have our regional meetings with members we always have a round up on governance and leadership - which is at the route of what acevo does with our CEO membership.  I was amused to hear of one member who said he has a trustee who has been on his Board for 52 years. Is this a record I wonder?

And we had our meeting at the Foundation in Leeds; an organisation working with the homeless and the socially excluded. Led by a dynamic CEO it is housed in the wonderful buildings that were  once part of the massive and magnificent Church of all Souls in Leeds. Once a hugely rich part of Leeds, it is now less affluent but the Gilbert Scott Church (the very last building he designed, he died 2 days after completing the design and his son built it) is a major focus of the community. This Church is well worth a visit. I popped in and found the church organist there happy to give a guided tour. 

It was no expense spared when it was built and so there are Kempe windows and paintings as well as a splendid font.


The panels that surround this stupendous piece of architecture are by Emily Ford, a pre-Raphaelite and suffragette. The panels are being carefully restored. 

The organist regaled us with dark tales of previous incumbents. The chap who thought he saw a devil on the altar reredos so had it covered with flock wallpaper and the Priest who stole lots of the movable church treasures. The church may have a declining local population but there is a massive attendance by the Leeds Ethiopian community who also use the Church for the Ethiopian coptic church services.


Back in time for an Odgers reception for their health service clients. Lots of the top decision makers of the NHS so much networking. Such is life as an umbrella CEO!

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Gagged? We shall see...

So after brave attempts by the Lords to change the 2 most obnoxious remaining bits of the Lobbying Bill we will now have a Lobbying Act. We may live to regret this day.

The real shame was that the staff costs amendment was a tied vote and so fell; which means we only needed one more peer and this would have been carried. It's a lesson for our sector to be more joined up and avoid mixed messages that are used against us.

There are other lessons to learn. Not all bad.

So, for example the work of the cross-sector Commission on Civil Society ( showed how we can come together across the wide diversity of our many, many charities when faced with a challenge.

However our work is not done. We now need to:

  •  give advice to charities and campaigning bodies on what they can and can't do
  • encourage charity leaders not to impose their own gag on what they do. As the recent report of the Independence Panel chaired by Sir Roger Singleton showed, there are strong dangers of self censorship; that CEOs and trustees are frightened off doing any campaigning for fear of falling foul of this new law or the bureaucracy it involves
  •   we must monitor the effects of this new law. This was one of the key recommendations of the Commission. We'll ensure we have the evidence to persuade the next Government to make necessary changes.
  • and finally ACEVO - and colleagues in our sister bodies - need to provide the support and advice charities need to get through this new minefield of red tape and to encourage all sector leaders to continue to speak truth to power. Knowing my members as I do I'm sure they won't be put off doing what's right by a piece of mean-minded legislation!

Monday 27 January 2014

The Top 500

A miserable Sunday as I trudged through Brockwell Park with the drenched Hound. But it was much enlivened by the Sunday Times! They have published a list of the Top 500 key influencers in Britain, and I appear in this list as one of the 20 most influential people in health. Other sectors featured include politics, broadcasting, finance, sport and the like.

As it says in the ST blurb “It's not about how much money you have, or who shouts loudest." Just as well, at least re. the money bit. Debretts helped compile the list with panels of judges who were tasked with finding the top 500 people who "demonstrate outstanding qualities of influence, achievement and inspiration".

It was neat for me that my brother Nick was the Panel Chair for retail so, as far as I could see, we were the only 2 brothers to appear on the list.

I know I have just written a piece with that bold headline about leaving your ego at the door, but I have to admit to being dead chuffed about this. It does highlight the work that ACEVO and I have been pioneering in health and social care, carrying the baton for reform and change and new ways to deliver better services for citizens. It’s a boost to us as we continue to push for a bigger role for charities and social enterprises in delivery and in advocacy. The health sector is such a closed shop of those who work within the NHS that I was delighted to see recognition for our third sector.

And nice to note a number of others from the sector like ACEVO members Ciaran Devane (Macmillan Cancer Support) and Gillian Guy (Citizens Advice), though the charity section of the list was light on charity leaders. The 20 top influencers in the charity section were dominated by philanthropists like Branson, Elton John and Lord Sainsbury. I like to think I was holding the umbrella for our professional sector too!

Friday 24 January 2014

Liverpool and local impact funds

Always good to go to Liverpool. As I reminded my audience in St George's Hall I have 8 dead relatives buried in the City!  And, as I reminded the Mayor of Liverpool, the council once offered me a job as a Director . Fortunately for them I turned it down and went to the Lottery Charities Board instead.

But enough chit chat – why was I there?  The Social Investment Business was launching its Local Impact Fund for Liverpool. The first such new fund that we hope will become a potential big new source of loan funding for our sector.  So move over social impact bonds - this is the new show in town!

There is potential to tap into funding through 39 partnerships in England, so this  new loan fund is based on a partnership model that could tap into millions of pounds of European funding to grow local charities.  And it has begun in Liverpool!

The Liverpool Local Impact Fund will use £1m of European structural funding and match it with a further £1m of private investment from our Social Investment Business.

It will award local charities and enterprises unsecured loans of up to £250,000 each, for up to five years, to help them grow. It is expected to invest in 20 organisations this year. The interest rate charged will vary.

Similar local impact funds are being rolled out in five other areas: Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria, Warrington and Lancashire. 

Local impact funds will work by using local enterprise partnerships – which involve local authorities and businesses – to tap into a European development fund. The impact funds will then be able to use this money to help secure matched funding from other investors.

There is a ground-breaking opportunity to use local impact funds to attract more than £100m of new social investment in the next couple of years, enabling charities to create new jobs and improve services in their communities.

It was good to do this with Nick Hurd MP, our Civil Society Minister. And it was good to pay tribute to him as I introduced him in the grand surroundings of the Georgian St George's Hall. Nick has been passionate about the power of social investment and has done much to help grow the market. He was with us to endorse and support the new Fund. Nick is about to become the longest serving sector Minister. We have had a few since I persuaded Tony Blair to appoint a Third Sector Minister and since the very first one; a certain Ed Miliband!  And Nick has proved a great choice. He "gets" the sector – our quirks and fantasies as well as our ambitions and drive. He is supportive and has certainly lived up to the aim to "do no harm," as he said he would do when appointed.

Nick Hurd and Jonathan Jenkins

It was also fun to be on the platform with the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson. Good to have him there. As yet the Council have not put money into the Fund, but I'm sure they are looking at this. 

Then it was back on the train to attend a reception for the country's top 500 most influential people.....can't say more at this stage. Partly because I've left my ego on the luggage rack of the train...