Stephen Cook: Bubb soldiers on as a difficult year closes

The editor of Third Sector says the Acevo leader evokes different reactions in different people, but has managed to stay at the top of his organisation for fifteen years

Stephen Cook
Stephen Cook

Sir Stephen Bubb is a bit of a Marmite man. Some see him as an outstanding leader and doughty advocate of the sector, others as a champagne socialist given to immodesty. He's been in charge of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations for fifteen years, and John Plummer's anniversary interview will help you decide if you'd put him on your toast.

The interventionist mindset of some Charity Commission board members is evident in emails about the Jihadi John affair that were disclosed in a court case. But hasty action by the commission, prompted partly by the evident anger and disgust of those board members, earned it a reversal in the High Court. The episode suggests that charities need to be cautious in their dealings with the commission under the current regime.

Looking back on 2015, it's clear that there's been a sea change for the sector, caused mainly by the fundraising furore. A sense of public scepticism and resistance has been growing for some time, and the Olive Cooke affair was the catalyst for it to break the surface. Politics and robust regulation also feature in our review of the year.

Fortunately, the government is still on the sector's side. In our second interview this month, Damian Hinds, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, is at pains to emphasise how much ministers value charities. Could this be because they want the sector to serve as the safety net when welfare cuts bite in the near future?

Hinds has that typically tough Treasury exterior, but is human underneath. Radiohead tops his list of greatest bands, and Oasis as a second choice is forgiveable, given that he comes from Manchester.

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