Last week I was invited to give evidence to the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) for its enquiry on citizens and public services. This is an important enquiry and has the opportunity to address some fundamental questions about the nature of our public services, and the Government's 'reform' and public expenditure programmes.
In an undiplomatic, tearful outburst at the current UN Climate Change conference, The Philippines representative told delegates their meetings have been called "an annual gathering of carbon-intensive useless frequent flyers." Judging by the successive failure of these international gatherings to reverse humanity's disastrous trajectory, many observers would agree with that frank assessment.
I can see the issue from both points of view, and the debate seems to have polarised with the solution probably being somewhere in the middle. I certainly don't think that zero-hours contracts should be banned outright. However, at my company, The Clean Space, nobody is on a zero-hour contract, despite them being extremely common in the cleaning industry as this list of vacancies shows.
If you sense a disturbance in the force, then that's because this week has seen the launch of the Alliance for the Social Economy. The Alliance aims to radically affect the way political parties think about the economy in the lead up to the next election. It includes Co-operatives UK, the Young Foundation, the New Economics Foundation, Social Enterprise UK and many more.
The issue of trust is something I feel strongly about. As a businessman and the owner of an ethical company, The Clean Space, I hear a lot of talk about building trust in terms of ethical credentials.
The purpose of the socially entrepreneurial University can therefore be said to be to make society more equal and just through the values and decisions of our graduates. The debate on values then becomes re-centred on what values we wish to develop in our graduating students, and thus into social entrepreneurship that we create? Here are some suggestions.
There is a role that we all have to play in responding to the changing skills needs that we will continue to face, and the diversity of the sector will mean that different organisations will need to reflect on these broader themes and identify priorities and appropriate solutions that work for them.
What an edifying start to 2013 we have had. Since I last wrote, we have spent six action-packed weeks travelling, visiting our partner NGO Base in the west of Nepal and then heading down to India for sun, sand and sea while the street food world recuperated from a gruelling 2012, ready for action after a January spent more or less in hibernation.