Budget serves last rites on Big Society, says Unite

George Osborne read the last rites for the Big Society in his Budget, as he did not stump up the cash to revive the Prime Minister’s pet project.

Unite, the largest union in the country, said that the Chancellor failed to plug the £4.5bn shortfall in funding for the not for profit sector and that the measures announced to assist charities were ‘tinkering at the margins’.

Unite national officer, Rachael Maskell said: “George Osborne failed to address the central issue facing the not for profit sector – how to bridge the £4.5bn chasm in funding that his government has caused by their austerity programme.

“The measures, such as reducing the rate of inheritance tax for estates that leave 10 per cent or more to charity, are welcomed, but it is clever tinkering at the margins, putting the onus on the individual, not the state, to deliver the Big Society.

“The measures announced yesterday will not generate the income for charities that they need.

“David Cameron’s pet project – the Big Society – won’t happen without a very large injection of funding – and yesterday his friend, George Osborne read the last rites and said RIP to that prime ministerial dream.

“There was no emergency funding to save the thousands of organisations that are having to make cuts now, or are even closing down. Charity professionals required to ensure that services to clients are delivered are being thrown onto the dole queue.

“The charity sector – once seen as the panacea for delivering all public services – has been totally destabilised and can barely deliver its own services at a time when demand is at an all time high.

“The pre-election promise to put the civil society sector centre stage of this government’s programme was yet another shallow gimmick to win votes.”