'Not good enough', Acevo head tells local government audience

Acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb launched a blistering assault on local government managers last week, telling them they were "not fit for purpose".

Speaking at the New Local Government Network annual conference, Bubb attacked the record of local authorities on working with the voluntary sector.

"In terms of your mindset and culture, you are not fit for purpose," he said. "What you perceive as partnership, we perceive as patronage. On a scale of one to 10, if 10 is partnership and one is patronage, we are at 10 and you are at one."

He went on to slam the short-term contracts offered by councils, claiming that 90 per cent were for only one year. He also cited cases of charities forced to make redundancies because of late notice of grant renewals.

Bubb recalled his experience as a local councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth after the 1981 Brixton riots. He said that community groups rather than the local council were responsible for regeneration in the years that followed.

And he rejected allegations that large charities were muscling in on their smaller counterparts and taking away council contracts.

"I don't think we should give in to the 'larger charities bad, small is beautiful' idea," he said.

He added that there were good examples of large charities, such as NCH and Barnardo's, working with small local charities.

Neil Bentley, director of public services policy at the Confederation of British Industry, said that competitive markets for the delivery of local services would improve quality and bring value for money.

But he added: "Achieving effective reform will radically change the way all sectors - public, private and voluntary - deliver."

Mark Poppy, deputy chief executive of Welwyn Hatfield Council, said: "We need to embrace a more commercial approach, but maintain our community ethos."

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Thirty-two per cent of the public are against charities delivering more public services and 38 per cent are not sure, according to research by voluntary sector think thank nfpSynergy.

The organisation's latest Charity Awareness Monitor report also found that one in five people would be less likely to give to charities if they were paid by the Government for providing services, one in 20 would not give at all and one in 10 would be more likely to give.

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