Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Speaking at Reform

I was speaking at a conference on Reforming Welfare and work for that excellent think-tank "Reform" today. I was making a speech on Big Society, and how the new Work Programme will test Government commitment.

Nick Seddon is the charming , beautifully presented and erudite deputy Director of Reform. He chaired the session and tinkled his glass to try and keep me to time. A bold ambition. I made the point that the new Work Programme will fail if it is simply an efficient sausage machine and or it fails to dramatically increase the role of the third sector in delivery. It needs to involve not just the current third sector providers but more. It should be incentivising small charities, community groups and specialist bodies like RNIB, The National Autistic Society and MIND. The Future Jobs Fund showed how we can involve very small charities who just want to provide one job. If the new scheme does not deliver this, it will fail.

So what is needed?

# capacity building; support for our organisations to grow and access support, to form partnerships and alliances and build infrastructure,

# capital, the new scheme involves payment by results. There is no third sector body, not one, who has the current capital to take part in the Work Programme. The Big Society Bank is two years off. The Futurebuilders Loan Scheme has been closed. There is no evidence (indeed lots of pointers against) that the banks will make commercial loans. What will the DWP do to provide a new capital pot to support bids?

# and for us; we need to develop partnerships to deliver. This might even be a partnership with a private sector provider. Joint ventures. And sector leaders who have a business like, professional approach

Iain Duncan Smith made the opening keynote speech. It was both rational and logical but also underpinned by his strong passion to tackle social justice.
He said the new Programme is not just about top slicing budgets. The Work Programme needs to address long term incapacity.

And in the Work Programme there will be payment by results but not just based on getting people into a job, but keeping them there. He said that the voluntary sector must be involved for success. He was very clear of the need to tackle the shame of the many thousands on incapacity benefit but who want to work and our crucial work in helping this happen.

It was good to get a name check from IDS in his speech. He made a reference to how "this is a message that Stephen Bubb from ACEVO has been giving us". It is. And it will be!

ACEVO is meeting with Chris Grayling and David Freud on Monday and we will underline these messages then.


Anonymous said...

Payment by results is something that charity trustees have to consider in depth - and will probably end up saying no to the contract. You can't spend out money with no guarantee of income. When the customer is the government and they have precedent in chnaging contracts mid-stream they are not a good customer. And, who would have thought, three years ago, we would be where we are now as a country? Pah

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