Monday, 19 August 2013

More Bubb

I love Bubb's Blog and find it the perfect amusing antidote to normal blogs. Bubb obviously feels that the purpose is to record his thoughts for posterity and reader contributions are most unwelcome. The comments section is superfluous as he never reads or responds, so virtually no one ever bothers. Apart that is for the now infamous post 'Shawcross brings sector into disrepute' in response to the new Charity Commission's Chairman having a go at charity CEO's and their high salaries. 

Bubb's defence of charity CEO's high salaries included the oft-repeated statement that 'donors aren't bothered about the issue', which sort of belies the numerous negative comments that were left by disgruntled donors on that post. Of course in typical arrogant fashion Bubb's response was to delete the whole thing, together with all comments. He's made no further reference to its disappearance, so we must assume that either he now feels it was a little misjudged, or his members do. There's certainly been a few charities that have found donors walking as a result.

Anyway, Bubb has clearly been pleasantly surprised with the increased readership of his blog, and the media continue to take a keen interest in his tireless activities on behalf of his members. I notice that the Independent picked up on the Open Democracy revelations concerning Bubb's enthusiastic lobbying of the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in order to make sure there are lots more privatisation opportunities for his charity members. 

The charity and voluntary sector make up over a third of the UK private healthcare sector, and according to Sir Stephen Bubb represent a ‘bigger player’ than people think. Bubb told a 2010 voluntary sector conference "The third sector could grow by £2bn a year by 2015, just through increased involvement in offender rehabilitation and public health."

Shortly after coming into power the government met with the CBI to discuss privatisation strategy. Leaked minutes revealed that Francis Maude told the group that transferring services at least initially to “charities, social enterprises and mutuals” would be more “palatable” and carry less “political risk” than “wholesale outsourcing to the private sector”. However in reality charities cannot compete against the financial muscle of the private sector. Research conducted by campaign organisation the NHS Support Foundation shows that since April 1st this year 100 clinical services worth £1.5 billion have largely gone to commercial companies. Last month the Bain Consultancy revealed how private sector companies are now engaged in an ‘arms race’ to win £5bn of National Health Service contracts. Third sector advocates should learn from the experience of Surrey Central Health, where a much lauded transfer of NHS services to a “social enterprise” led within a couple of years to a takeover by Virgin, who were better able to raise bond finance.

Recent failings from private companies such as Serco fiddling data for their out of hours service, or G4S overcharging on their contracts, has done nothing to diminish the speed with which outsourcing is taking place. However, as the list of private outsourcing failures grows, the government will increasingly appreciate being able to emphasise the 3rd sector as a more palatable alternative, even if their involvement is not sustainable. In fact, David Cameron has already turned towards the voluntary sector in his hour of need. When asked by Ed Miliband who supported the government’s legislation he cited Bubb’s ACEVO.
Does Bubb’s vociferous support for privatisation benefit the 1,500 ACEVO membership of charity leaders (the members of whom are currently hidden from public view)? Or does it ultimately benefit the members of the NHS Partners Network, whose membership includes Virgin Care, United Health UK or Care UK?
I thought it misguided for the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph to dwell on Bubb's Labour roots because in reality he's simply an arch opportunist just as happy cuddling up to the Tories as any other party. Wikipedia has this to say:-
From March 2011 to June 2011 Bubb was seconded to the Department of Health, as part of the team leading Andrew Lansley's National Health Service (NHS) "listening exercise".
Bubb is regarded as close to the UK government led by David Cameron, with his longstanding advocacy of charities replacing public services chiming with their policy of promoting competition and privatisation in areas such as healthcare. He has described criticisms of privatisation as belonging in the "last century". Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh has described Bubb's role in the NHS listening exercise as that of a "Trojan horse" whilst Anthony Barnett, of Open Democracy, has accused him of providing "charitable astroturfing for government policies" 
For those interested, here is Bubb campaigning again on his blog trying to make sure that his members get a big slice of probation work as part of the Rehabilitation Revolution Omnishambles. I wonder which party will end up giving Bubb his hard-won Peerage? 

Finally, thanks to Mike for pointing out that Hugh Muir of the Guardian is following the Bubb saga:-

Brotherly love is sometimes hard to find in the charity world and with the rivalry between the chief executives of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) one moves into Cain and Abel territory. But it's round two to the NCVO's Sir Stuart Etherington who seems to have got the upper hand over Sir Stephen Bubb of ACEVO. Bubb has been making waves saying charity hot shots should be paid the going rate, meaning £100,000 plus. In front of a Commons committee last year he and Etherington were involved in a public spat, with NCVO taking the prudent line. Now Etherington has set up an inquiry with the Charity Commission to draw up guidelines on senior pay. It seems likely to conclude that big money is unnecessary and Bubb is wrong. Still, things could be worse: ministers could start asking why the voluntary orgs need two membership organisations both led by well-paid knights, especially now that they share the same offices. One prays they won't.


  1. Unrelated.
    Todays Clacton Gazette covers a story "Probation officer wins top award".
    I'm left wondering how many 'extra miles' will be traveled under privatisation?
    Maybe Bubb knows?

  2. MP Priti Patel has called on poor old Bubb to repay the costs of his infamous 60th birthday party.
    Bubb also has a bit to say on the rebranding of ACEVO in "Civil Society".
    Does rebranding mean a change of direction? Or will it make bidding for outsourcing contracts easier?

    1. The 're-branding' is in effect just a move to lower case and dropping the use of the term 'third sector'. Of course in typical Bubb style he blames somebody else for introducing the current brand. He's a total arse of the first order.

    2. Dont know if you ever read the "The Steeple Times" on line jim. I find it quite amusing and interesting and very topical. You'll be pleased to know Mr Bubb has been named as their 'wally of the week'.

    3. Love it!

  3. "He's made no further reference to it's disappearance..."
    Does one have to be ignorant of the correct use of the apostrophe to write about Beelzebub?

    1. Oh well spotted - I'll have a word with the proof reader! Now corrected.