Wednesday, 2 October 2013

More Bubb Nonsense

It seems we can always rely on the pompous Sir Stephen Bubb, CEO of ACEVO, to talk nonsense. Here we not only have him complaining about the bad food and hotels on the party political conference circuit, but also this gem concerning his members and the new 'Help to Work' punishment regime for the unemployed recently announced by George Osborne:-

Lastly, at the Conference yesterday we heard from the Chancellor about his latest efforts regarding unemployment. Charities have long led the way in supporting the unemployed back into work. However, if the government expects charities to take on many more volunteers through the ‘Help to work’ scheme, then those places will need to be funded. Governments tend to think of volunteering as without cost, but volunteers need to be supervised, managed and trained and that costs money. Many charities would also have strong reservations about accepting volunteers on mandatory placements- volunteers should be motivated by passion, not the threat of lost benefits. Many of my members will not want to take on the role of penalising people on schemes who may loose benefits. We are the voluntary sector, not an arm of the State, let alone an enforcement agency for DWP. 

Hang on a minute here, what's all this about "many of my members will not want to take on the role of penalising people on schemes who may loose benefits. We are the voluntary sector, not an arm of the State, let alone an enforcement agency for DWP."

Oh yes you are! What on earth does he think is currently going on with the Work Programme and his voluntary sector contractors? Claimants are being 'sanctioned' routinely, ie having their benefit withdrawn for months at a time for failing to keep appointments with their work coaches.

Of course the voluntary sector is becoming an arm of the State and Sir Stephen Bubb has been at the forefront of assiduously lobbying government ministers to make sure they get a bigger slice of the action with probation privatisation contracts. Does the man not realise that voluntary bodies who take on probation work will be fully paid up arms of the State, helping to administer judicial punishment via court orders? 

Has he taken leave of his senses and simply forgotten that this probation work he's so keen to get for his members is not just about being cuddly and getting clients jobs and housing, it's also about challenging their offending behaviour, monitoring their risk, administering electronic tagging, drug testing and ultimately providing the evidence for breach action or recall to prison if they do not comply with court-imposed conditions. If that isn't about being an arm of the State, an enforcement agency, then I don't know what is.  


  1. None of these opportunists circling the TR bid process have even begun to comprehend the nuanced nature of this work, the sophistication of the client group and the dichotomies that define the inter-relationships between agencies of state and other sectors. Anyone who thinks it is just about control and management of individuals and contracts is in for a shock.

    1. Not realising what it's really all about? Thats why many smaller agencies that got involved with the work programme have gone bankrupt and no longer exist.
      Does't Bubb (theres no truffle sauce with my steak), understand that TR work will involve training and organisation? And who will fund that? The contractor. Not the state because the contractors bought the package.
      Something else that Blind Bubb might need to think about, something that many in the work programme fell foul of, is this.
      Don't calculate the number of people on your watch as the number of people you'll get paid for. i.e 100 people at £40 a head equals £4000. For every 100 people you're likely to get paid for 40 and thats only £1600. Big difference Bubb. And also because you really have no idea (other then guessing) of the actual number of outcomes you will have to claim payment on, you won't have any idea what amount is coming in month by month. If you can't pay the bills one month then it just becomes a slippery slope.
      If all those who are looking to make money from TR contracts, heres my advice- you'd probably get a better deal from WONGA.COM.

  2. An article has just appeared in the Crewe Chronicle 'campaigners angry at paedophile escape".
    The finger of fault points to probation. The public need to be asked the question, "How much better do you think things will be with Serco and G4S doing the supervising"?

  3. Did somebody mention Serco?
    According to the Hull daily Mail today Serco have been given a £1m contract to run a call centre in Hull.
    I know the contract was given by local council, but isn't that still another £1m of government money being handed to a company under investigation for defrauding government?
    What happened to no more contracts until a clean bill of health can be given?
    I for one am sick to the back teeth of these gaint outsourcing companies taking over our planet, with apparently government assistance. They're like locusts.

  4. England is forever a two tier society. I loved the "halfbreed" aside from last week's Downton Abbey that got the nanny sacked - and there's the rub. England is not a meritocracy, nor will it ever be while those who think that Eton, Oxbridge, power and the glory, etc is all that matters and hold the reins of power.
    For example, .most local newspapers have their own "hall of shame" where they publish (presumably police-supplied) mugshots and a precis of each undesirable's act of crime. I recently discovered a freedom of information request made by a J C Richards about MPs who had criminal convictions:
    "Please provide details of the number of Members of Parliament, who
    are currently sitting in the House, who have a criminal conviction
    and for what offence(s)."
    The response was predictable: "This information is not held by the House of Commons. We are not aware of any public authority that would collate this information."
    Chris Huhne spends ten years lying about a traffic offence (which also netted him ten years' worth of MPs salary & expenses whilst he persisted with that deceit, none of which he has been asked to repay), is convicted & jailed. His recent re-emergence into the public eye doesn't reveal too much damage done - in fact there's a queue of weasels waving serious cash at him for his story.
    A case I worked with not so long ago admitted to and was convicted of an historical benefit fraud (total loss to the public purse £360); given Community Service; was splashed on the front page of the local rag which led directly to his being sacked from his job; had to resort to signing on & had his house repossessed; became very depressed, resorted to alcohol & prescription drugs, became homeless; committed one further offence of shoptheft to fund his alcohol dependence, was warned he could be sent to jail by the court when they adjourned for an "all options" report - and he took his own life that night. That was probably the fault of the Probation Service too.
    P.S: as of 1 October 2013 the wages protection mechanism for agricultural workers in England & Wales, the AWB, was axed by this government. The jurisdictions of Scotland & Northern Ireland retain their own boards, and the Welsh Assembly is looking to re-establish their own version as soon as possible.

    1. Thanks for that report anon at 12.07

      I still remember a client who committed suicide on the day he was due in court - not long after his wedding - he was expecting - another 18 -24 months sentence for a stupid offence that he gained nothing from and caused a lot of nuisance and cost to a lot of folk.

      He was estranged from his family - I was doing SER - as an extra case - he had been a client for years - I was pushed for time - failed to pick up on his - 'I can't face what is coming line' but just said something dismissive - not quite of the - if you can't do the crime... variety but saying he would cope had he still had much going for him - but he did not see it like that.

      After no manager said anything to me - about my sense of failure - I like many colleagues - simply do/did not have the resources to give the attention needed - at the time it is needed - whilst I worked in a gaol there were loads who attempted or several who committed suicide - who could have been helped - but simply could not face a future that they felt trapped by.

      When we start work as probation workers we delve into peoples lives on behalf of the state - like medics - we should at least have resources to not make things worse.

      That case was in about 1985 - six months later his widow, came to see me to ask my permission to go on a date. Before that his mother, from who he was estranged came to see me - and said I knew him better than she. He was about 21 or 22. I only knew him because he had been a colleagues client in a group I ran as a resource for the whole team and first had one to one contact when I wrote that SER.

      I got over it - we have to, I and most of us (like my father with his worst military experiences) keep them to ourselves - the state seems to absolve it self of any responsibility, yet we send our employees to delve into the lives of others.

      When I worked in a prison - we had one governor who began EVERY full staff meeting - with a reading of most of that 1910 speech from Winston Churchill - that still inspires me.

      From about line 1357 of Hansard 20/7/1910

      "We must not forget that when every material improvement has been effected in prisons, when the temperature has been rightly adjusted, when the proper food to maintain health and strength has been given, when the doctors, chaplains, and prison visitors have come and gone, the convict stands deprived of everything that a free man calls life. We must not forget that all these improvements, which are sometimes salves to our consciences, do not change that position. The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country. A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused against the State, and even of convicted criminals against the State, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerating processes, and an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man—these are the symbols which in the treatment of crime and criminals mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it. "

    2. Thanks anon contributor and Andrew for sharing these stories - I too have had clients commit suicide, partly because I couldn't give them the attention they needed at the time. You never forget.

      There are many aspects to this job that the public can barely imagine, and therein I suspect lies one of the main reasons for our demise as a profession - ignorance.

    3. Jim understandably strays into the area of possibly feeling his lack of attention contributed to a person's suicide, we are never the only person in a client's life and ultimately are very rarely personally responsible for what they do or do not do.

      I anticipate Jim does believe that - I think it is right to say it explicitly.

      Because of the way Society looks for someone to be responsible when an unwanted outcome happens we need to be careful of not catching that 'bug' - as it were - what Churchill wrote about is that all people are all our responsibility - that is my belief too,

      The ignorance of the media and politicians' seems chosen by them - after all Churchill told us all in 1910 - how things are as far as those society thinks need punishing.

  5. More Bubbel & Squeak from across the web:

    "The chief executive of Acevo tells his members that there is a 'sinister agenda' backed by those who want to clamp down on charity campaigning and independence. Bubb said that "the most pernicious example" was a recent Chris Grayling speech in which he promised that "professional" campaign groups would be restricted in their ability to use judicial reviews." Sept 2013

    "One of the staunchest defenders of boardroom excess at Britain’s top charities used his organisation, which is funded by fees from the UK's charities, to help pay for his 60th birthday party in the Houses of Parliament..Writing on his blog Sir Stephen - who is thought to be paid over £100,000 a year - had said that it “seemed just right to celebrate my 60th with a tea party in the House of Lords on Monday!” Telegraph story, Aug 2013

    Sir Stephen sits on the Board of the Adventure Capital Fund, parent 'charity' of Social Investment Business (SIB) with, amongst others, Crispin Blunt MP.

    “It is having the best of both worlds” confirms Sir Stephen because of the benefits of being a charity which is really a business, and the sometimes almost equal benefits of a business saying it is really a charity.
    Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo), urged Jeremy Hunt not to water down regulations that would encourage more private companies into the NHS. The regulations, drawn up as part of the Health and Social Care Act, which came into force in April, require local health bosses to put almost all services out to tender. When the reforms ran into opposition there were reports that they might be watered down. So, “private companies”suddenly become “charities”. Last night Sir Stephen said: “I unashamedly believe in a greater role for charities in providing public services and have actively argued for this. Acevo believes that a level playing field in NHS commissioning means that charities can step up to the plate to deliver a wide range of services ranging from hospice care to mental health.” Aug 2013.

  6. Theres been a lot of talk about what to do with the unemployed at this years Tory conference. Heres a little nugget just as a distraction for a few moments from TR.

    1. They live by different rules, don't they. Reminds me of the allegations that his brother, George Osborne was witnessed snorting 'a big, fat line of cocaine' by Natalie Rowe, aka Mistress Pain who worked as a dominatrix, who invited George to sue her her. He didn't, the story faded and left George to talk about strivers and shirkers and the addirional pains he's like to inflict upon the unemployed.

    2. Well thanks guys for those very interesting stories I was completely unaware of - sort of puts the current Daily Mail attacks on Ed Miliband's father into context. It's going to be a very long General Election campaign.

  7. I hope Linton Kwesi Johnson doesn't mind this post. His work has deservedly found its rightful place in English Literature, and equally deserves to be re-visited because it is relevant & valid to the travesties and injustices being perpetrated in England today:

    w´en mi jus´ come to Landan toun
    mi use to work pan di andahgroun
    but workin´ pan di andahgroun
    y´u don´t get fi know your way around

    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no escapin it
    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no runnin´ whey fram it

    mi get a lickle jab in a bih ´otell
    an´ awftah a while, mi woz doin´ quite well
    dem staat mi aaf as a dish-washah
    but w´en mi tek a stack, mi noh tun clack-watchah

    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no escapin it
    Inglan is a bitch
    no baddah try fi hide fram it

    w´en dem gi´ you di lickle wage packit
    fus dem rab it wid dem big tax rackit
    y´u haffi struggle fi mek en´s meet
    an´ w´en y´u goh a y´u bed y´u jus´ can´t sleep

    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no escapin it
    Inglan is a bitch, fi true
    a noh lie mi a tell, a true

    mi use to work dig ditch w´en it cowl noh bitch
    mi did strang like a mule, but bwoy, mi did fool
    den awftah a while mi jus´ stap dhu ovahtime
    den awftah a while mi jus´ phu dung mi tool

    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no escapin it
    Inglan is a bitch
    y´u haffi know how fi survive in it

    well mi dhu day wok an´ mi dhu nite wok
    mi dhu clean wok an´ mi dhu dutty wok
    dem seh dat black man is very lazy
    but if y´u si how mi wok y´u woulda sey mi crazy

    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no escapin it
    Inglan is a bitch
    y´u bettah face up to it

    dem a have a lickle facktri up inna Brackly
    inna disya facktri all dem dhu is pack crackry
    fi di laas fifteen years dem get mi laybah
    now awftah fifteen years mi fall out a fayvah

    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no escapin it
    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no runnin´ whey fram it

    mi know dem have work, work in abundant
    yet still, dem mek mi redundant
    now, at fifty-five mi gettin´ quite ol´
    yet still, dem sen´ mi fi goh draw dole

    Inglan is a bitch
    dere´s no escapin it
    Inglan is a bitch, fi true
    is whey wi a goh dhu ´bout it?

  8. From a regional newspaper report today (I won't identify the area). Could the not-too-distant future read like this? I know not the circumstances or the case other than the offences were sneak thefts a matter of days after release from a previous jail term - plus, heaven forefend, it might be an appallingly inaccurate and out of context press report - so I do not want to be critical beyond saying it feels very sad that we seem to be handing Grayling hand-crafted, live ammunition in advance of our own execution.

    "In August he was convicted of two charges of burglary by XXXX magistrates. Pre-sentencing reports said [the defendant] had refused to co-operate with community sentences in the past, and there was no option but to jail him.
    [The barrister] said he had been hoping the report would be “more constructive” and urged the judge to consider a rehabilitation course.
    “I would ask you to reflect on the invidious position he finds himself in when released from prison with no money and nowhere to go,” he added.
    The judge accepted the difficulties with the system, but insisted it was no excuse.
    Sentencing [the defendant] to two years in prison for each offence, to be served concurrently, [the judge] told him: “This court doesn’t have the answer to all social problems that come before us.”