Budget profile: Our man at the Treasury

Nathalie Thomas

Campbell Robb The director of public policy at the NCVO talks about what he hopes to achieve during his year-long secondment to Whitehall.

The morning after Gordon Brown's announcement in the Budget that the NCVO's director of public policy would be seconded to the Treasury, the man in question - Campbell Robb - looks like the cat who's got the cream.

"You don't get many chances like this," he smiles. Over the next year, Robb will devote one day a week to acting as a 'lead adviser' to the Treasury as it begins the largest consultation ever carried out with the voluntary sector, to feed into next year's Comprehensive Spending Review.

Robb is no stranger to the corridors of Whitehall, however, having spent the past eight years pursuing the Government on the NCVO's behalf. Before that, he was a researcher for David Blunkett and advised the Labour health team during the 1997 General Election.

He admits he'll feel quite at home working inside government. "I've been working with some of these departments and people for eight years," he says.

The details of Robb's secondment are yet to be finalised, but his time at Whitehall could end up being no more than usual. "I probably spend more than one day a week engaging with government anyway," he says.

But if the secondment won't differ too far from Robb's day job, what and whose agenda will he take with him?

"I don't see my role as coming with an agenda," he says. "I see it as making sure other people's agendas have the chance to be aired and included in this consultation process."

Robb hopes the Treasury will live up to the promise of including the voluntary sector in the decision-making process - and he intends to ensure it casts its net wide. "I absolutely want to make sure we get out to as many people as possible," he says.

"I'm hopeful that this will prove a genuine opportunity to give the sector a voice in one of the most important processes that happens at national government level."

The secondment comes at a time when the Treasury isn't exactly the sector's best friend. Robb won't reveal whether he'll raise the issue of VAT with economic secretary Ivan Lewis and friends, although he does say that "the NCVO has argued for VAT reform for a long time".

So with a full year ahead of him working in government and mixing with ministers, might Robb one day be tempted to go into politics or the civil service himself?

"No," he insists. "I've been working on charity law reform for seven years, and I'm not going to give up."

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