Thursday 22 January 2015

Social Justice in Church House

I’m blogging from Church House this morning (though not as a bishop). I’m at the launch of the Centre for Social Justice’s “Breakthrough Britain 2015”, and the recommendations in their “Social Solutions” report.

A major feature of this report is the urgent need for transformation of public services. There are some very good proposals which Government need to take seriously. These include recommendations on better commissioning practice - which should receive particular attention. The drive for public service reform, so strong under Blair and in the early years of Cameron, has dulled and in some cases almost disappeared. The radical proposals of the white paper on better public services have dropped into a pending tray.

Frankly, it’s hard to see how the big problems of health or social care, rehabilitation, employment and the like can be solved without a central role for the third sector. This theme has been in the news this week, for example, with ACEVO’s recommendations for reducing acute winter pressure on accident and emergency departments using third sector staff and volunteers.

The day started well with a late breakfast with Laurie Lee, CEO of CARE international, sharing perspectives on the work of NGOs and charities in the UK, and the wider policy framework for charities under the cosh of the Lobbying Act and other attacks on charities’ role in civil society.

And the day will end with our ACEVO AGM and our annual Parliamentary Reception, both in the Palace of Westminster. We officially hand over the chairship of ACEVO to Paul Farmer of Mind. And Penny Morduant MP and Hilary Benn MP, both old friends, will be speaking on the role of the third sector in the next parliament. They are both great advocates for our role. One in her ministerial role at DCLG and the other as a pretender for the throne currently occupied by Eric Pickles!

Must get round to doing my speech....

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