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Housing and Regeneration Bill 16th June 2008

Lord Mawson: The key point that I was attempting to make before I was interrupted by the Division Bell is that the housing association movement was begun by social entrepreneurs of their day who used their independence from the state to begin to pioneer new and innovative ways of creating social housing. The capital development programme has often been used as a mechanism for stimulating innovative approaches to social problems. This amendment seeks to encourage housing associations to continue to use their capital investment as a means of stimulating social innovation and questions the wisdom of allowing the Secretary of State any further say in what social innovation housing associations may become involved in.

Let me share with the Committee the reasons why this point is particularly important. Objective 6 of the new Tenant Services Authority’s remit is,

“to encourage registered providers of social housing to contribute to the environmental, social and economic well-being of the areas in which the housing is situated”.

The regulator will begin to regulate housing associations’ non-housing activities. The power to encourage is good where associations want to develop and feel that they can skimp these responsibilities, but a weakness is that the clause does not make it very clear what the practical shape of regulation in this area will be.

While some regulation may be valuable, even inevitable given the increasing degree and scope of community investment activities, we must be alert to the costs of regulatory creep. This danger was well identified in the Cave review and reassurances have already been given at a prior stage that this should not be a cause for concern. However, it is worth looking at some of the arguments proposing limits to the size and extent of the regulatory shadow.

First, on enterprise and service innovation, many housing associations have engaged in community development work because they have believed that there is a need for a step change in the provision of all local and neighbourhood services in deprived areas. The greatest challenge is to do this so as to re-energise people and communities in ways that begin to wipe out further cycles of dependency. This is where the

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impact of social entrepreneurs within the housing associations and the local communities has been greatest. Without the impact and example of social entrepreneurs, the prospect of transforming not just neighbourhood services but the neighbourhoods themselves is diminished. Increased levels of regulation will tend to discourage and dampen enterprise and will tend to make housing associations more cautious. The entrepreneurial spirit will tend to evaporate as it has elsewhere in many parts of the public service.

Secondly, in the most deprived areas it is not just specific services—a community facility here or a training opportunity there—but the whole culture of the neighbourhood that needs to be transformed and needs to transform itself. Additional layers of regulation—it is not as if there is no regulation at all out there at present—will again send out the wrong signal to those who are seeking to change the culture of some of these new emerging places.

Thirdly, there is a need for regulation-free areas. No service area is completely regulation-free but in some areas, provided that the board control is robust, decision-making is resolute and financial viability is not impaired. It is important to preserve as much autonomy as possible. This is such an area. Real service innovation is always in short supply. There is never enough invention to keep pace with social change. All our services are straining under the pressure of ever quicker social change. However, swelling bureaucracy and regulation never seem in short supply, adding burdens and costs but never removing things significantly beyond barely satisfactory or uninspiring services. Is this a service and regulation model that we want to emulate?

Fourthly, regulation cannot promote innovation. Social invention, together with the changes and added value it brings, cannot easily be regulated. Invention is unpredictable and comes in the most unexpected of places. It often comes in places where everyone is certain that there is nothing to find. It frequently takes time to be acknowledged and have its value appreciated and understood. You cannot easily regulate for change and you cannot regulate what will change. Unless we have a system that widely promotes and encourages innovation and experiment, where will the stream of future improvements actually come from? A Highway Code is a great idea, but someone had first to invent vehicles and a highway that they could travel on. Those golden eggs and the geese that can lay them must be able to flourish.

Fifthly, many community activities are initiated precisely because of resident demand and local support from an association’s board. Things are done precisely because local conditions and people determined what the need was, and that it should be met. If these activities are now done because the regulator directs that they should be done, in ways that the regulator deems appropriate, this will tend to undermine the potentially enormous social power of local initiative. There is a world of difference between saying, “We did this because the regulator requires it”, and, “We did this because you wanted us to”. There are existing checks and balances. If an association launches into exotic activities without getting the basic services right, residents will be the first to criticise and express

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dissatisfaction. This was amply illustrated in the report Every Tenant Matters. Local energy and inventiveness, both at board and neighbourhood level, need to be nurtured. Elsewhere in the Bill the aim is clearly to strengthen governance and resident involvement.

Sixthly, community investment is frequently undertaken with non-housing money. This may be funding obtained through non-housing governmental sources, from charitable trusts or sponsorship from private enterprise. Such funding will generally come with its own conditions, requirements for outputs and audit processes, which an association must demonstrate that it meets. Is a further layer of regulatory audit really necessary? This is duplication which has a cost.

Seventhly, there is a trace of a central controlling tendency in the legislation; just a trace of that baleful tendency to treat everything as if it was ultimately no more than an arm of government. If government, either central or local, wishes to influence the work of non-governmental organisations, it already has many persuasive incentives at its disposal. Government can make funding streams available through specific programmes; can give or restrict access to partnerships; and can increase or diminish the influence and involvement of non-governmental bodies. These signals are read, and organisations and people respond rationally to them. This is the everyday life and work of government and non-governmental organisations everywhere to achieve their objectives.

What additional benefits would there be from more direct regulatory control that would not be outweighed by the damage resulting from constraining the independence of associations? Stronger partnerships emerge from independent parties than from constrained ones. The autonomy of housing associations was once thought to be an important part of their value; it would be disappointing if that insight were lost.

My eighth point is about perverse incentives. Extending regulation to this area may have several unwanted and unintended consequences. Obvious examples are that it could encourage tick-box compliance where compliant mediocrity and uniformity pass muster or might encourage a less ambitious spirit where no one feels he has to stretch once he complies. Regulation also tends to lead to a desire to reduce regulatory risks so that the safe, the limited and the dull are chosen because they cap the risk of exposure to regulatory failure. Can we afford to encourage that spirit where invention is most needed? The “business as usual” and “we meet the regulatory standard” responses often stand in the way of innovation and keep mediocrity in place precisely where making it new is most required.

Finally, the argument from monopoly supply does not apply here. The monopoly argument supporting close regulation applies to many of the services provided by housing associations, ALMOs and local authorities. If we assume that they are all going to be brought under the same regulatory umbrella within a year or two, as the Bill suggests, it is apposite for many core functions, but that argument does not apply in the same way for non-housing activities. There is considerable vigorous competition for non-housing services between

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the mainstream, the third sector and the private sector. Where competition is stronger, a case can be made for much looser regulation.

These are the nine strands of argument in favour of a loose regulatory touch on community investment activity. The arguments overlap and are linked in various ways. However, the most important strands concern the need to encourage enterprise and innovation. To make the step changes in service provision and housing supply which in large part motivate the Bill, more innovation than ever, and at a greater rate, is going to be needed. This is clear from the recent report from the Smith Institute, The Public Value of Social Housing, which was recently launched by the Housing Corporation. It states that social change and the profile of people now predominantly housed in public housing will give this contemporary housing and regeneration its hardest challenge yet.

To begin to meet this challenge it might be helpful if the Government could require the regulator, when evaluating housing associations, specifically to look for innovation activity and to comment if there is none or not much evidence of it. Social innovation will not happen by magic. It needs to be encouraged in the Bill. This amendment, plus simple little measures like this, can have considerable impact in setting the tone for future house-building programmes.

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Debate on building a stronger economy

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Debate on the availability and quality of apprenticeships

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Andrew speaks on the important debate regarding the impact of National Health Service innovation and research strategies on health improvement

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Speaking against the Bill Andrew questioned the “blind faith [given to] doctors and social workers [that they] will protect the vulnerable,” by saying “yet we are given daily examples where we are failed by specialists.”
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Debate on the Voluntary and Charitable

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Andrew draws attention to non-conformist churches during a Motion to Take Note on the importance of the English parish church

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House of Lords debate the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy

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Andrew spoke during the Motion to Take Note on the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy. Praising the hard work and dedication that has gone into securing the legacy for the future Andrew highlighted that whilst the Olympic project is far from finished: “The future of all eight permanent London 2012 venues is now secure. This collectively means that London is further ahead than any other host city in history.” Andrew finished off by saying: “The future in east London is full of opportunity, but it still demands hard work, focus and a continuity of purpose.”
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"The often unconscious bias against business in the classroom needs to be addressed. Teachers are uncomfortable with their students trading and earning money in school. They are uneasy when you speak to them about profit margins and exploiting market opportunities. Unless this is addressed, the contribution of education to economic growth will be muted". Read the full speech.

Andrew's contribution to Litter debate

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It is my view that a local context often reflects the wider world in which we live: the micro is the way into the macro. Small acts can tell us a great deal about emerging social trends. In my opinion, the UK’s litter problem is just one of many national signs that illustrate the disconnection between political PR-speak and the reality on the ground.
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Andrew's contribution to the 'Business and Society' debate

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My Lords, when I began my work as a social entrepreneur in the East End of London 30 years ago, there was a clear perception that the public sector and charities were the good guys who do good to people and that business was for, and I quote, “greedy capitalist pigs”. Of course, many of us at that time had little, if any, real practical experience of working with business people. However, we read the Guardian and completed our university degrees and so we were experts.

Andrew's response to HM the Queen's Gracious Speech

13 May 2013

If the present Government want to distinguish themselves from previous Governments and distance themselves from broken political promises, I suggest our politicians focus on three words: delivery, delivery, delivery. My colleagues and I have found that trust is created and local people participate when you deliver in practice on what you say.
Read the full speech on Lords' Hansard.

Andrew leads debate on Olympic Legacy to great acclaim

24 January 2013

To move that this House takes note of the role of communities, the arts and creative industries in delivering a lasting legacy to the Olympics, and of the lessons that can be learnt more broadly.

Andrew contributes to Lord Boateng's debate: what steps do the Government intend to take to enable the voluntary sector to participate in the delivery of public services

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I have spent the past 35 years demonstrating in practice how the voluntary sector can play a crucial role in innovation and in delivering public services in new ways that focus on the customer. How can it use its position, sitting between the often large bureaucracies of the public and private sectors, to bring much needed innovation in the delivery of public services?

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If we cannot make money out of saving the planet then it is not going to be saved. The business of saving the environment has to be our business and it has to be a commercial enterprise or it will mean nothing to many.

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The purpose in raising this debate today is to make sure that these two important areas of growth are placed firmly on the map of the UK. They present the nation with development nodes that are nationally and internationally significant, now and in the years ahead. They require a sustained, co-ordinated and thoughtful response from the Government if they are to fulfil their true potential.

Financial Services Bill (Second Reading)

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Andrew’s contribution to ‘Faith Communities’ Debate

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In contrast, faith organisations in general have a broader view of care for the whole person. They have a wider concern for those they help rather than a narrow, sectional interest, and this is why they should be involved in the delivery of public services. I hope that policymakers within government will take this point into account as we move forward with the restructuring of the National Health Service and are all encouraged to embrace a localism agenda.

Health Minister Earl Howe praises Andrew’s contribution to Health and Social Care Bill

24 April 2012

Today I am going further and put on the public record that the Secretary of State for Health is committing that the requirements in the public services Bill will be fully applied in relation to commissioning of NHS services through the procurement guidance that the board will produce on this. These were issues that were raised very compellingly by the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, and I pay tribute to him for his powerful and consistent advocacy on this theme”.

Andrew’s contribution to Public Services (Social Value) Bill

1 February 2012

I believe that change comes from within. It is not about a top-down or a bottom-up approach; change happens from inside out. The change I describe will happen only if we take in hand the outdated machinery of government and bend it to our will. This is fundamentally a practical task for practitioners and the Government would do well to point to them and celebrate their work. This is a job for the Brunels of this generation-the engineers and entrepreneurs. It is not a task for the faint-hearted or those Guardian readers who, in my experience, are all too content to analyse the world to death and comment from the sidelines through newspaper articles and government reports. Gird your loins for this practical task; it is time that we celebrated practical people.

Andrew’s latest contribution to the Localism Bill

12 July 2011

Often local authorities are actually not in touch with the practical opportunities on the ground presented by land and buildings.

Andrew’s thoughts on the Localism Bill

14 June 2011

My question to the Minister is: does anybody currently drafting this legislation have personal experience of challenging a local authority when trying to deliver a service? If the Minister would find it helpful, I would be willing to share our considerable experience in this area and explore together how we might make this piece of the legislation workable in practice.

To call attention to the case for policies to support economic growth and to promote investment, innovation, technology, infrastructure, skills and job creation; and to move for papers.

6 April 2011

I suggest that the big society depends on micro businesses as exemplars to lead the way.I therefore request that the Minister actively explores practical ways to identify, promote and foster economic growth within this emerging entrepreneurial sector across the UK. Much of it is based in some of our most challenging communities. The social sector is formed from many shoots and distinctions need to be drawn to protect these young entrepreneurial flowers. Will the Minister please inform the House how the Government plan to empower social enterprises in some of our most challenged communities?

Reorganisation of the NHS

21 December 2010

How in practice is government going to use the restructuring of the health service to create a new narrative relevant to modern health? Secondly, what is government going to do to ensure that doctors engage with innovators and entrepreneurs?

Speech to the House of Lords 28th October 2010

4 November 2010

My Lords, I want to make a few points about health and social care. How do we provide quality healthcare that meets the real needs of patients in today’s world? Will the popular biomedical model of health meet all those patient needs, or does its internal logic present us with a limited view of what [...]

Health: Primary and Community Care Debate 24th June 2010

25 June 2010

Lord Mawson:My Lords, it is a privilege to be able to lead this debate on the future of primary and community care at this early stage in the new coalition Government. The vision that the Government have set out for primary care, where resources are deployed in the hands of practitioners close to the ground, [...]

Education, Health, Welfare, and Culture – 3rd June 2010

4 June 2010

Lord Mawson: My Lords, I should like to add to the deluge of praise. I congratulate the new Government on their success and wish them well in the coming years as they try to develop a working partnership and deliver their programme. I also want to take this opportunity to wish the Minister, the noble [...]

The Use of Church Buildings – 22nd February 2010

25 February 2010

My Lords, there are nearly 50,000 church buildings in England; 16,200 of them belong to the Church of England, and the rest are mostly owned by the Catholic Church, the free churches and other denominations. Many sit on prime sites at the centre of their communities, yet they are often large and underused.

Queens’ Speech – 23rd November 2009

25 November 2009

I have a bit of a reputation, I think, as a moderniser of public services and for taking outdated health and education systems and applying to them entrepreneurial thinking and practice. My colleagues and I, both in east London and nationally, have produced results over the past 30 years which demonstrate some success. At the core of this work has often been the empowerment of disfranchised local communities and individual citizens so that they might take more responsibility for their personal lives and families and their local community. This is what citizenship is all about.

Healthcare – June 25th 2009

14 October 2009

The poor souls in the third sector are no third-rate choice. The third sector is like any other sector—better in some places than others. Our approach to procuring health and social care services is ignoring some of the most talented and innovative individuals and organisations—people who have been working tirelessly in their communities for far longer than the perennially reconstituted PCTs and health authorities.

Olympic Legacy 18th June 2009

18 June 2009

Lord Mawson: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Coe, for leading this important debate. It is a very helpful time to have this discussion, because a great deal has happened during the past year and new opportunities are now presenting themselves, which allow us all to move on and to deal with the [...]

Housing and Regeneration Bill 23rd June 2008

23 June 2008

Lord Mawson: I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 113B and 113C. A well conducted ballot is widely thought to be the best way to interpret existing transfer legislation. The proposal is now to write the requirement for a transfer ballot more directly into the Bill. The value of ballots is hard to argue with, but it [...]

Housing and Regeneration Bill 16th June 2008

16 June 2008

Lord Mawson: The key point that I was attempting to make before I was interrupted by the Division Bell is that the housing association movement was begun by social entrepreneurs of their day who used their independence from the state to begin to pioneer new and innovative ways of creating social housing. The capital development programme [...]

Housing and Regeneration Bill 11th June 2008

11 June 2008

Lord Mawson: Amendment No. 104ZA seeks to encourage the Minister and her colleagues to look carefully at how the large amount of money which they are about to invest in housing can be used as a trigger to encourage social innovation. The housing association movement was begun by social entrepreneurs of their day, who used their [...]

Housing and Regeneration Bill 19th May 2008

19 May 2008

Lord Mawson: I shall speak to Amendment No. 23A, which is in my name and is part of the group. It is a probing amendment, which recognises that the creation of the Homes and Communities Agency presents us with a real opportunity to move away from public housing monocultures of the past and to invest in [...]

Housing and Regeneration 13th May 2008

13 May 2008

Lord Mawson: I, too, welcome the amendment. Since I entered your Lordships’ House I have been very encouraged by the concern about quality of design. I was very encouraged by the debate, which I could not attend but which I read, in which the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, spoke, on the quality of design. One can [...]

Housing and Regeneration 28th April 2008

28 April 2008

Lord Mawson: My Lords, I, too, welcome what I perceive the Government are attempting to achieve in this Bill. The creation of the Homes and Communities Agency could have enormous potential and be a key delivery partner in building successful communities. The aspiration behind this legislation is laudable and presents enormous possibilities for the investment that [...]

Arts and Healthcare

6 March 2008

The key question is: what does it mean to be a healthy and fully rounded human being and what kind of services do we need that will help, rather than hinder, such human development?

Olympic Games 2012: Legacy

17 January 2008

Lord Mawson rose to call attention to building sustainable communities and securing a worthwhile legacy for the London Olympics; and to move for Papers.

Maiden Speech 20th June 2007

20 June 2007

Lord Mawson: My Lords, as I rise to make my maiden speech I am conscious, as the son of a milkman from Bradford, of both the privilege and the responsibility of taking a seat in this place. I take this opportunity to thank those noble Lords and staff who in the past few weeks have helped [...]