Stephen Bubb receives knighthood in New Year's Honours

Written by Andrew Holt

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the charity leaders representative body ACEVO, received a knighthood in this year's New Year's Honours List for his services to the voluntary sector.

Sir Stephen Bubb is widely known for his role as chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), a high-profile national organisation representing the views of Third Sector Leaders.

In 2007, he became secretary general of the European Third Sector Leaders Network, which creation he has driven.

Under Stephen’s leadership ACEVO has been transformed into a powerful organisation that has pushed forward the views of the sector, and ACEVO has developed a pivotal role in defining government policy towards the sector.

Sir Stephen is a passionate advocate of public service reform through enhancing delivery through the third sector and has written and lectured on this extensively in the UK and internationally.

Sir Stephen was one of the key influencers who persuaded the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of the need to give a much bigger role to Third Sector organisations in the delivery of public services and helping transform those services.

Under his leadership ACEVO has driven funding and contracting reforms and the concept of "full cost recovery", where the state or funders contract for services they should pay the full cost of them rather than expecting charities to find their own overhead costs.

ACEVO is committed to promoting the professionalism of the Sector and in 2003 Sir Stephen acted as a key member of the Tyson Task Force, looking at the appointment on non-executive Directors in the commercial sector from non-traditional sources like the Third Sector.

In 2007 Stephen was appointed executive chair of the Adventure Capital Fund which won the contract to run the Government’s Futurebuilders initiative – a £215m Fund to invest in service delivery by third sector organisations. He has since become Chair of the Social Investment Business.

Earlier life

Sir Stephen was born and brought up in Kent. He read PPE at Christ Church, Oxford where he also became Chair of the Oxford University Labour Club.

It was this latter role that led him, through a brief spell as a civil servant, to become Research Officer to Jack Jones of the TGWU.

He was, therefore, closely involved in the development of the Social Contract and the events surround the 1978 Winter of Discontent.

He then went on to become Negotiations Officer for the NUT during a period of significant industrial strife, but in 1987 he swapped the role of negotiator for the role of employer, as the lead adviser to Local Government on pay negotiations.

He was a driving force behind the reform of the negotiations structure and the introduction of a “single status” pay agreement which abolished archiving distinctions between manual and white collar workers.

From there he was seconded to set up The National Lottery Charities Board and was its first Director of Personnel where he played a key role in establishing the Board and its grant making activities.

Stephen has also had a very varied career in a wide range of public roles, notably during the turbulent 1980s as a councillor in Lambeth, 20 years a Youth Court Magistrate in inner London, nearly two decades on the health authorities in South London.

He is founder of a major HIV centre in South London and has had a wide variety of roles in Third Sector Organisations.

Stephen has chaired the City of Oxford orchestra. A committed Anglican he had strong interest in music and the fine arts generally.

Generally known as a bon viveur and great raconteur his “Bubbs Blog” is widely read across the charity sector and even acquired a spoof “Bogg’s Blug copy. “Bubbs Blog” can be found in the national archives.

Views from the great and good

Tony Blair, at ACEVO’s 20th anniversary celebrations at No10, said of Sir Stephen Bubb: "The sector is more organised and dynamic as a result of your work Stephen."

Baroness Smith, former Minister for the Third Sector, added: “As a Minister I always knew I could rely on Stephen and ACEVO to champion the cause of the sector with straightforward honesty, good reliable information and good judgement.

"That's the way to build up a relationship built on trust and mutual respect and get the best for the sector - ACEVO has achieved it.”

Damian Green MP also commented: “In 10 years, Stephen has applied his unique brand of enthusiasm, flair, and sheer bull-headedness to driving ACEVO forward. At a time when the voluntary sector is more important than ever, this is hugely important work. He is a great contributor to the Big Society. “

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