The year in management: 2012

Notable stories included continued pressure on charity subcontractors in the Work Programme, the ousting of the chief executive at the disaster relief charity ShelterBox and strikes at Amnesty International

Taking part in the Work Programme
Taking part in the Work Programme

The year began with the National Audit Office publishing a report that said the demanding targets of the Work Programme, the government’s multi-billion pound back-to-work scheme, might have been forcing prime contractors to put disproportionate pressure on subcontractors, many of which are charities.

Several charities pulled out of being subcontractors because of a lack of referrals over the course of the year, including the homelessness charities St Mungo’s and Single Homeless Project. The welfare-to-work charity Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change also withdrew.

However, the number of charities taking part in the scheme increased slightly in the first six months of the year, government figures showed.

In November, the chief executives body Acevo announced it was putting together a group of charity leaders to review the scheme after official figures showed only a small proportion of people in the programme had found work.

The local infrastructure body Navca also called for a review of the Work Programme to stop large contractors "abusing local charities".

A dispute erupted at the disaster relief charity ShelterBox in August when it announced that its founder and chief executive, Tom Henderson, had been removed from his post.

A Shelterbox trustee resigned in protest at the decision and said the decision to remove Henderson was not a unanimous one, as the charity had said.

The charity subsequently revealed that Henderson was dismissed for gross misconduct in a row that began with suspicions that a company connected with his son was given favourable treatment and he had breached the charity’s "related-party transactions" policy.

Henderson denied any wrongdoing and responded by lodging a claim for unfair dismissal with the employment tribunal, to be heard next year.

In September and October, staff at both Amnesty International UK and Amnesty International took the unusual step of going out on strike over cost savings and job cuts.

Disputes between charities and unions continued apace in November when the social care charity Turning Point decided to sack all 2,300 of its staff and re-employ them on new contracts.

The Unite union questioned how Turning Point had "the gall to call itself a charity" following the move, but stopped short of organising strike action.

The Cabinet Office made managing volunteers a little easier in May, when it announced that they would now be able to complete a "portable" criminal records bureau check following a change in the law.

Volunteers could now undergo a single check that would allow them to work for multiple organisations.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said the change would cut red tape for charity managers and make it easier for people to volunteer their time.

In December, the government announced checks would be free for volunteers under the new Update Service.

The year ended with the Cabinet Office adding an extra section to its procurement pledge. It had come under criticism by sector bodies, including Navca and Compact Voice, which represents voluntary sector organisations on the Compact, for being too focused on large organisations and not containing any mention of the sector.

The pledge now says the government is "strongly committed" to the principles of the Compact and that every government body is expected to follow its principles.


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