Cameron’s Con continues

With the Office for Civil Society – the supposed engine room of the prime minister’s ‘Big Society’ – hit by a hefty 61 per cent cut in funding, the government’s con is well and truly exposed, Unite the union says today.

The cut to the Office for Civil Society is just one of the hits revealed today in research showing that UK’s charities are crumbling under an avalanche of central and local government cuts, says the union.

Recent publication of Cabinet Office accounts reveals that the Office for Civil Society’s total spending will be slashed from £192 million to £74 million – a colossal 61 per cent cut.

Unite, which has 60,000 members in the not for profit sector, says that government’s disjointed policies and indiscriminate cuts are creating a vacuum of core services leaving the elderly, our young and the most marginalised in society struggling to get the support they need.

The latest figures blow apart government’s claims to be building a ‘big society’.

Unite national officer, Rachael Maskell said: “The prime minister needs to stop banging on about his mythical Big Society and explain how he plans to fund the crumbling society.

“The Big Society is a con, dreamt up by his so-called experts who have never spent a day working in the sector. Charities and voluntary sector organisations are struggling to survive now that a staggering £4.4 billion has been snatched from the sector.

“We don’t want airy-fairy notions or blue sky thinkers.  What the people of this country want to know is who will care for our parents in old age and our children now?

“The government is turning its back on the organisations best placed to nurture and sustain it.”

Unite is calling on the government to give back the funds it has taken from the voluntary sector and develop a coherent policy.

More from Unite here.

1 Comment

  1. Jonathan
    5 August 2011

    Helpful facts but I think the argument is an over-simplification.

    I believe that Cameron is genuinely committed to ‘the Big Society idea’; the trouble is is that it won’t work because in a capitalist economy, society needs the state to prop it up.

    One of the key aspects of Cameron’s approach is the notion of ‘democratic accountability not bureaucratic accountability’. Consequently, public authorities are being asked to publish all manner of information so they can be held to account for their performance. In principle, I think this is a good idea provided that ‘civil society’ (particularly economically and socially marginalised groups) has the support it needs to influence public authorities and the information covers issues like service accessibility and quality issues like maintaining customer dignity, autonomy, respect etc.. For the left, this approach offers a number of organisational possibilities and a way of moving beyond New Labour’s bureaucratisation of social movements and politics in general (see Colin Barnes’s critique of Labour’s approach to disability, if you want to engage with a version of this argument, particuarly his(extreme but interesting) view of the Disability Rights Commission).

    To avoid confusion about what I’m saying, I’m not arguing that Cameron should be supported – I think his notion of the ‘Big Society’ is doomed because of his support for free market economics and public sector cuts – but that we need to acknowledge the power of the idea and its potential to help undo some of the damage that New Labour did, provided that it is put within an anti-capitalist critique.

    To do this, I think we need to go way beyond the argument in the article above.

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