Christmas time means many things to many people, but to those of us in the Welfare and Skills Industry it means mainly one thing – bidding. I would like to wish a Merry Christmas to all our colleagues out there who are designing, drafting, calculating, commissioning, partnering, negotiating – all the things that we hope we do not have to do over the Festive period.

Beyond the New Year the outlook also looks bleak. Economic forecasts point to multiple challenges – significant cuts in public sector employment, major transitions in housing and unemployment benefits, acceleration in public service reforms, continuing management of the budget deficit and an equal challenge in driving private sector growth.

On top of this we have a very real challenge of responding to the new outline of the Work Programme commissioning programme. However, despite this outlook I am confident that our industry can respond effectively. History has demonstrated in the past that we have been able to overcome the most serious of challenges for both our people and customers. This year alone we have managed the cancellation on FND, FJF, JPG, TTG and a run down of all major Welfare and Skills programmes. Over the last few years we have witnessed a catalogue of significant changes to which our industry had responded fantastically.

So let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year confident in the knowledge that despite all these troubles ahead we have the ability for significant growth in our industry over the next few years.