Debbie Scott: why I'm joining David Cameron

The chief executive of employment charity Tomorrow's People talks to Paul Jump about becoming a Tory peer

Debbie Scott
Debbie Scott

Debbie Scott says she is delighted by the prospect of becoming a Conservative Party peer, but admits she is unsure exactly what to expect.

The nomination of the chief executive of Tomorrow's People to join the Tory ranks in the House of Lords was announced by David Cameron during a speech last week setting out the party's plans to replace "big government" with "big society". He described Scott as one of the social entrepreneurs the Conservatives would work with if they were elected.

Scott will formally be offered the ermine in January once she has gone through the party's vetting process.

She says she will accept in the hope of being able to influence Tory policy to help the long-term unemployed people Tomorrow's People works with.

Scott has already had a significant hand in forming Tory social policy, as Iain Duncan Smith's deputy at the Centre for Social Justice when it produced the Breakdown Britain report.

"That was an inspiring and hugely useful experience," she says. "The issues that became apparent are issues I have been concerned about in all my working life."

But she is unclear exactly how much influence she will actually have. "It is all very new," she admits. "I need to get experience and do what I can."

One person whose brain she plans to pick is the crossbencher Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of Turning Point and a 'people's peer' since 2001.

Other sector figures in the Lords include crossbencher Baroness Greengross, former director general of Age Concern England, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Labour), former chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and Baroness Pitkeathley (Labour), former chief executive of the Carers National Association, now Carers UK.Pitkeathley still held her job when she entered the Lords but gave it up because she found it was incompatible with being a committed working peer.

Scott is determined to continue as chief executive of Tomorrow's People, but is not sure how things will work in practice. "But Tomorrow's People will be looked after," she says.

She is excited about the amount of political attention the sector currently enjoys, which she thinks arises from its increased ability to demonstrate its effectiveness. And she is not worried that her personal affiliations will compromise Tomorrow's People's political neutrality.

"We will continue to work across all the parties to feed in potential solutions," she says. "I will be acting with integrity and I will do everything in my power to make sure Tomorrow's People's integrity is not compromised."

 

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