Friday, 25 November 2011

Mixed Economies

Interesting week.

I see that in an opinion poll the charity sector was the 3rd most trusted institution (after the Army, and the NHS). In the same posting (from Third Sector) Kevin Curley of NCVO warns against charities getting too close to corporates (and social finance).

I sense that we’re getting to a dividing point in the sector soon. Some charities will continue to rely on local support/funding, and/or be part of a national body (like Scouts/Guides) and avoid any form of contracting, or social enterprise. Others will set out to win contracts within a commissioning process and/or to become social enterprises. In short there will be a sharper "mixed economy" within the sector in future in my view. However commissioners (mainly local authorities)  will have to be careful that they don’t find winning contractors that are strange bedfellows - I make this point in relation to the new commissioning process that Surrey CC is engaging in for support service bodies (from 2013).

 These thoughts were prompted in particular by three events this week.

First, our national body – NCVYS (National Council for Voluntary Youth Services) held a regional consultation meeting here, and said that views in the south-east (favouring social enterprise/finance links to corporates etc) were very different from other regions - who preferred a more traditional relationship with central/local government (only).

Second, we are putting in a Lottery bid with the Community Foundation for Surrey, and Surrey Community Action to create an Innovation and Replication hub for Surrey,  brokering projects for social finance, and social enterprise…so it’s pretty clear where I stand on the issue above!  I also met with a youth worker who has already set up a community interest company (CiC),  and is EXACTLY the sort of organisation that our Lottery bid would aim to assist.

Third, I met with a housing association that hopefully will be building a new hostel for homeless and needy young people in Epsom, and it was interesting to hear of their different experiences of bidding for contracts elsewhere around the country.  

Off shortly to our second public meeting about “Young people and society “ at NESCOT FE college in Epsom. This morning’s breaking news is about a new Government initiative to address youth unemployment….whatever happened to the Future Jobs Fund? Ah yes… I remember!

And finally met, in a private capacity, the Appointments Secretaries of the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury -  being consulted, with many others,  about a new Bishop for Chichester – now that’s different! Family lunch on Sunday to celebrate: eldest son’s new granddaughter and a new breakthrough job (his, not hers!), youngest son getting engaged at last! Any excuse for serious food.

Enjoy the week-end…and start of Advent.

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