Three new reports on partnership working between faith and local government.

Adebowale: I will not be silenced by the lobbying bill

Turning Point CEO Victor Adebowale told a hall full of charity trustees yesterday that he would not be silenced by the lobbying bill and urged them to step up their campaigning at election time despite the bill.

“The not-for-profit sector is at a crucial point,” Lord Adebowale told the NCVO Trustee Conference in his keynote speech. “We can either lead or be led, be silenced or speak out.

“The recent convergence of not-for-profits, including the forming of some very unlikely alliances in response to the lobbying bill, is a good example of the latter happening.   I’m as concerned, hopefully, as any one of you about its chilling impact on free speech in this country.

“I think the bill sends the wrong signal about how we value such concerns and I put it to you that the idea that the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Suffragettes, suddenly when it came to an election said, ‘hang on, we need to pull back here people, we’re worried, we might get fined’ – no. That’s not how society changes. Society changes at those pivotal points when the public are interested in who is going to lead them, so that’s when we should step up our campaigning and I for one will not be stopped from speaking out by the lobbying bill.

“We should all be prepared to do and say what needs to be said, to reflect the needs of those that we serve.  Do we want to keep society civil? I hope we’re prepared to fight for it…because we’re going to have to fight for what we believe in.”

CEO salary debate

Adebowale also gave his views on the executive pay debate, saying that those that objected to professional salaries for charity chiefs were “entitled to their opinion” but should realise that this is the 21st century.

“Charities are businesses,” he said. “We just have different outcomes, different bottom lines.”

He challenged the notion that organisations that pursue a social purpose should not be able to pay competitive rates, while organisations pursuing private profit can pay what they like and nobody objects.

“Somehow we have got into a situation where it is ok to pay someone squillions to bring the banking system down, yet not ok to reward highly talented people who are doing their best to build a good society,” he said.

“Why shouldn’t we reward people for doing good? I want to challenge that argument a bit, to push it back.”

NCVO chair Martyn Lewis, who is also chairing the sector’s Executive Pay Inquiry, told Adebowale his comments had provided a “very helpful contribution” to the inquiry.

Changes to employee terms and conditions

Adebowale also used his speech to pay tribute to Turning Point’s 3,000-plus staff, and sought to "clarify reports" of recent changes to their terms and conditions.

He said the charity was forced to make the changes by the prevailing economic conditions, and that the changes consisted of removing enhancements that are no longer paid within the health and social care marketplace.  They were “difficult decisions, made to protect jobs but really to protect services”.

He pointed out that nobody at Turning Point is paid the minimum wage, and insisted the charity remained committed to maintaining base pay for all employees. Also, nobody is forced to accept zero-hours contracts unless they want to.  “I don’t like them as a forced measure,” he said.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank my staff – they are the best people I have ever worked with and I am proud to be associated with them. We didn’t make these changes to increase profits, but we need to be sustainable.

“I can’t change the market conditions. But there is a question for government about what they are prepared to pay for health and social care, given that this sector supports some of society’s most vulnerable people.”

Third article was taken from Civil Society – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/16415/