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Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services, 1 July 2010: ACEVO Funding for the Third Sector conference

  • Last modified date:
    20 December 2010
Paul Burstow, Minister of State for Care Services

It’s a pleasure to join you today and my thanks to ACEVO and Action Planning for inviting me.

This is actually my first ‘conference hall’ speech as a Minister.

I’m delighted it’s to an audience so central to achieving better care and better health outcomes for people in this country.

And to people and organisations sharing the values that will characterise our own approach. Our commitment to personalisation, to quality, to mutuality.

Now I deliberately want to keep my remarks brief today. That’s because I’m here to listen to you, rather than talk at you.

I want to hear the difficulties you’re coming up against. And I want to learn what we can do, as a Government, to help you keep doing the important work that you do in your organisations.

This is a Coalition Government.

We’ve set out an ambitious, shared programme for the future.

The goal is a simple one, but also potentially very radical in its impact on our society.

We want to redefine the relationship between people and services, between the citizen and the state.

The State should do less to people, less for people. And more with people. More stepping back to make the space for people to lead the lives they want, how they want it.

In health and social care, that means giving individuals and communities the whip hand.

Real choice over their treatment and support.

Real control over the way money is spent on their behalf.

Real power to hold local institutions to account for poor performance, hence driving up standard for everyone.

Quite simply, we can’t succeed in this without the third sector.

Without organisations like Turning Point, which is doing so much to enable people past users of health and social services to shape the way these services work in the future.

Or the First Step Trust, which is doing excellent work with ex-offenders and people with severe mental health problems.

People who might otherwise end up back in prison or a high secure facility.

They’re instead working in MOT garages, regaining their confidence and self-esteem.

Having, as the Chief Executive of First Steps puts it, ‘this reason not to slip back into old habits’ gives them the hope of a much brighter future.

I pick these two out, but I know there are stories like these in every corner of the room today.

That’s the power and the potential of the third sector.

You operate at a completely different frequency to statutory services.

Tuning in to people’s needs in ways they can’t.

Reaching out to excluded groups in ways they can’t.

And providing diversity, innovation and expertise that enriches the support we can offer people.

That means you’re central to our plans

Central to reducing inequality.

To empowering patients, service users and citizens.

And to achieving higher standards and better results in more efficient and cost-effective ways.

So the challenge is this.

To foster the conditions in which social entrepreneurs can blossom, the energy of enterprise is harness for social ends, and in which the third sector can thrive and be recognised for what you do best.

We’ll back you because of the expertise you have, the connections you make, and the community-based support you provide.

So Andrew Lansley and I both agree that the third sector should be operating on a level playing field with the NHS and social care.

The Coalition Programme makes it clear we want to give patients the power to choose any provider that meets NHS standards, within NHS prices.

What matters to us is results: improving standards, higher quality, better outcomes for patients. Nothing less, nothing more.

But to achieve this, we need to end the perverse incentives resulting from the targets and tick box culture that’s taken root in the public sector.

It’s frustrating to hear stories of how this has affected some organisations, making them move away from what they’re good at, in order to meet a very specific PSA.

By ending this target culture and the siloed outlook it produced – and instead placing a much greater emphasis on overall quality through outcome measures – I hope we can free the third sector to do what you do best.

Looking out for the people you support, not looking up to Whitehall targets.

Commissioners have also been held-back by the same Whitehall-led, tickbox culture.

Making decisions based on targets, rather than on what their communities really need.

That has to stop too.

I want to push decisions as close to the individual as possible.

And one way forward is through direct payments and personal budgets. We’ve also committed to extending the use of these.

This will open doors for third sector bodies, both in providing services directly, and also playing a vital role in advocacy and brokerage.

But this is a two-way street. Just as public sector organisations are being challenged to raise standards and cut costs, so charities and voluntary organisations will need to adapt.

You will need to show your mettle. Demonstrate real success in improving outcomes and changing lives. Be savvy about how the local GP consortia or council operates. Tenacious in knocking on doors, and finding ways to access funds.

The bottom line is that this a time for big ideas, and new ways of thinking about problems.

We will need and welcome your insight as we move towards the Spending Review, to consider how we achieve the necessary savings.

I hope today is the start of a productive dialogue between the third sector and Government.

Because, whilst it will be a tough time, I do believe the door is wide open for you.

And together I think we can achieve an awful lot in the years ahead.

Thank you.

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