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Unite voluntary sector members call for charities to leave Acevo

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo
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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 civilsociety.co.uk, 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.

Mark
23 Oct 2012

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

Niki May Young
Website Editor
civilsociety.co.uk
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,
Niki

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
CEO
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
Unite
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.

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