Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo has said the Big Society will be a ‘charade’ if it means the state retrenches and leaves the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces.
Speaking at the Reforming Welfare conference this morning, Bubb said the voluntary sector needed capital to effectively play a role in welfare to work programmes and gave examples of why the sector was best placed to deliver:
“Around 40 per cent of welfare to work services are delivered by charities,” said Bubb, “But it should be more. For example, the Prince’s Trust helped an 18-year old troubled lad find employment. But it required a lot of mentoring support and the National Autistic Society found one of its service users a job, but he needed serious support initially in his role. This is not available from the state.”
He urged government to encourage the "raft of national charities not in welfare to work programmes such as RNID or RNIB":
“They are not incentivised to provide support to the unemployed,” he said, “But they could be.”
But Bubb warned the lack of capital in the voluntary sector meant it was difficult to compete with the private sector:
“A large charity like the Shaw Trust is still small scale compared with the commercial sector,” he said, “And with the government moving to a payment by results model for contracts, charities will have problems with cash flow.”
Bubb also suggested turning the national Job Centre Plus into local job centre trusts run in the voluntary sector.