Unite voluntary sector members call for charities to leave Acevo

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo

Unite voluntary sector members call for charities to leave Acevo 6

Governance | Vibeka Mair | 10 Oct 2012

A branch of Unite’s voluntary sector worker members has called on the union to urge charity chief executives who are part of Acevo to leave the organisation in protest at Sir Stephen Bubb’s involvement in “the break-up and marketisation of the NHS”.

Some 50 voluntary sector members of Unite from organisations including Crisis, Greenpeace and Amnesty International are in support of the move, and will ask the rest of not-for-profit membership to vote on whether to take action at its next National Industrial Sector Committee.

The Unite London and Eastern Region for community, youth workers and not-for-profits has tabled a motion, seen by, which will be debated by other Unite branches involved in the community and voluntary sector on October 17th.

The motion, entitled Stephen Bubb, accuses him of playing a major role in imposing the doctrine of “any qualified provider” on the NHS.

It adds: “He has done this on the basis that the voluntary sector (as well as the private sector) could gain financially through bidding to carry out public services.

“All the evidence now emerging shows that voluntary sector groups are being driven out of the bidding wars for the provision of public services – for example the Work Programme – in favour of the private sector, thus proving the truth of the prediction made several years ago that the voluntary sector simply serves as a 'stalking horse' or a cover for private companies in the privatisation of public services.”

The motion says Unite should publicise Sir Stephen’s activities and calls on charity chief executives to leave Acevo in protest.

Last year, Sir Stephen Bubb was appointed to the NHS Future Forum to assess choice and competition when the government’s controversial Health and Social Care Bill was going through Parliament.

Sir Stephen was appointed following mounting criticism of the Bill to take part in a “listening exercise” which would review the proposed reforms.

Critics of the bill include public sector union Unison, who said at the time that it would "bring wholesale competition into the NHS".

Responding to Unite’s motion, Sir Stephen said: "Public sector unions are entitled to their views, but my position has always been that if someone wants to spend the last days of their life in a hospice rather than a hospital, or receive support from a mental health charity rather than the state, they should be allowed to. My members provide great services using NHS funding, and I will always champion their ability to do so."

Unite's community, youth worker and not-for-profit sector covers around 60,000 members.

23 Oct 2012

So what happened, I can't find anything about the vote on the ACEVO website...

Niki May Young
Website Editor
23 Oct 2012
Response to [Mark]

Hi Mark,

Sorry for the lack of update on this. The action was passed by members but the motion now has to go to Unite’s executive committee who will decide whether to take action. Will be reporting on that decision.

Best wishes,

Bronwen Handyside
Unite L&E524 branch
16 Oct 2012

As Stephen Bubb well knows, hospice services, and services provided by mental health charities have historically been provided by the voluntary sector. These roles are subcontracted out by the public sector –and thus can be said to be part of the public sector. Legal Aid advice has historically been provided by the voluntary sector in the same way – commissioned out by the Legal Services Commission. The fact that he raises this as an argument shows how rattled he is. Unite voluntary sector workers are talking about the role that Stephen Bubb has played in this (and the preceding) government’s plan to enable predatory private companies looking for a reliable buck in this period of falling profits to take over public services. The problem is, the private companies provide an inferior service, carried out by super-exploited workers. Just look at the adult social care system. Succeeding governments of different political shades have developed this plan as a result of the lobbying (and the promise/provision of very lucrative posts in the private sector) by private companies.

The job of the voluntary sector is to provide services which give added value to public services - and reach the parts (with niche services) that public services cannot provide.

Stephen Bubb also well knows that the voluntary sector is being driven out of this new role in subsitution for public services. This is because it simply can't compete with the financial resources of the private sector in bidding to provide public services, and the private sector's readiness to drive down wages and conditions (no matter how hard some employers try). Just take a look at the Work Programme. Really and truly, a Liberal lordship is not worth the price he is having to pay in terms of his own personal integrity and reputation.

Hi Gregory - our Unite members, when not satisfied with the leadership, do withdraw their membership, and I am pleased to say our membership has increased by some tens of thousands over the past year. I am not sure what you mean by saying that you understand Unite's fear and desperation - I don't think we are fearful and desperate about the destruction of public services and the welfare state and the profiteering of private companies, I think we are very very angry.

Social Investigations
11 Oct 2012

**content removed, please refer to community standards**
Mr Bubb should resign, he sold the NHS down the river.

Gregory Aitken
Hull & East Yorkshire Mind
10 Oct 2012

I am not a particular fan of Sir Stephan Bubb and often think ACEVO could and should represent its members better. But I hope ACEVO members will ignore Unite’s rant. If Sir Stephan is to be censured I hope it is nothing as draconian as withdrawing membership. You should not stab yourself in the heart. I wonder how Unite leaders would feel if its members when not satisfied with their leaders withdrew membership. Oh but of course that is what they are doing. Notwithstanding the billions charities and other voluntary organisations receive for helping local authorities and government meet their obligations we maintained our independence and survive by public support. I understand Unite’s fear and desperation we support vulnerable people every day to deal with it. Unite this is not the way!

Graham Pearson
19 Oct 2012
Response to [Gregory Aitken]

Mr. Aitken,
What is the way? Treasury civil servants already know that the NHS provides more economical services than in Germany, France or the US, over very many years. Do you know of a better efficiency in another system? We would like to know of it. It is a matter of national importance and your contribution would be welcome. I am already receiving flyers through the door advertising private health insurance. Not affordable on Pension Credit.


[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear


  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

VAT tribunal judgment on investment management fees worth tens of millions to the sector

30 Jun 2015

Charities should be able to reclaim VAT on investment management fees, a tribunal has ruled, in a move...

St John Ambulance records first operating surplus in seven years

30 Jun 2015

First-aid charity St John Ambulance has recorded its first operating surplus in seven years, as its income...

Founders of music charity found innocent of fraud, but charges forced them to shut down anyway

29 Jun 2015

The founders of a Newport-based music charity have been cleared of all charges over conspiracy to defraud...

Think tank Rogare calls for a fourth fundraising regulatory body to set code of practice

30 Jun 2015

Fundraising think tank Rogare has today called upon the minister for civil society to create a fourth,...

Amendments proposed to Charities Bill to make all fundraising charities with income over £1m join FRSB

30 Jun 2015

Fundraising charities with incomes over £1m would have to join the FRSB, according to amendments proposed...

Friends of the Earth writes to every supporter after Olive Cooke affair

29 Jun 2015

Friends of the Earth has written to registered supporters to ask if they were happy with the way the charity...

Contactless donations set to soar, CAF study suggests

24 Jun 2015

There is a “massive future” for charity donations using contactless payment technology, according...

RBG Kew denies pressuring TripAdvisor into deleting hundreds of negative reviews

22 Jun 2015

Kew Gardens has denied claims that it pressured travel site TripAdvisor into deleting negative reviews...

JK Rowling charity scoops top prize at Charity Awards 2015

19 Jun 2015

A charity set up by JK Rowling ten years ago to close children’s institutions and orphanages in developing...

Join the discussion


Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<