Conservative Party Annual Conference - Monday
29 Sep 2008
Held in Birmingham from 28 September to 01 October
With share prices tumbling worldwide, the proposed $700 billion rescue package for the US banking system stalled and the collapse of Bradford and Bingley, Monday’s hot topic was inevitably the credit crunch. Speaking at a fringe meeting, Philip Hammond MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury considered that consumer attitude to debt was already changing. The problem had been “confusing the creation of credit with the creation of wealth”. People who thought they were quite well off are now “facing a rather unpleasant sobering up experience”, he said.
Business Editor at the Sunday Express, Tracey Balls stated that it was no exaggeration to say that “we’re engulfed in the worst financial crisis since 1929”. Considering whether the worst was over, her opinion was that, although the major banks are probably safe, building societies still looked vulnerable – “only the Britannia and Nationwide are safe, to be honest”, she said.
Social enterprises, or the third sector, are playing an increasingly important role in delivering public services as well as supporting communities. Speaking at a fringe event, Claire Dove, Chair of the Social Enterprise Coalition highlighted the added value of social enterprises in responding to some of the most entrenched problems facing urban and rural communities. Social enterprises can help to deliver good, strong public services but there is a need to simplify the procurement process, she said.
Jesse Norman, Chairman of the Conservative Co-operative Movement pointed out that the idea of entrepreneurship should not be confined to private businesses because it was more about awareness of opportunity than simply the desire to make profits. “Well run enterprises in the private sector are now looking at models in the third sector”, he said.
Charles Eales, Public Sector Relations Manager at Microsoft agreed that there was a good cross-over between social enterprises and business. Referring to Bill Gates’ concept of creative capitalism he said that there was a need to get government, the private sector and voluntary organisations to work together to help the disadvantaged.
policyreview.tv will be providing online coverage from each day of the conference, recording interviews, fringe meetings and gauging the reaction of delegates and pundits.