The New Economics Foundation (NEF) published a report this week called ‘Cutting it. The ‘Big Society’ and the new austerity’. It’s a very useful and practical read explaining the idea of the Coalition Government’s Big Society and, crucially, the potential impact and opportunity for local and community organisations.
Cutting It is an updated and expanded version of our July briefing Ten Big Questions about the Big Society. This report takes fuller account of emerging plans for government action as well as the public spending review. It also reflects what we have learned from a wide range of charities, community groups and government officials at meetings they convened to discuss what the â€˜Big Societyâ€™ could mean to them.
Here is a quote from the ‘What are the big challenges?’ section:
The â€˜Big Societyâ€™ ostensibly represents a great boost to community groups, charities and other non-profit organisations. It implies a ringing endorsement of their achievements and potential, puts them centre-stage, and seems greatly to prefer their character, ethos, structures and approach to those of the public sector. It promises to free them from unwelcome restrictions and encourage their development, and apparently wants to give them a lot more state-funded contracts, handing over huge chunks of government business…
There are worries, meanwhile, about the scale of transformation that is planned: where is it all going and where will it end? How much is being demanded and can civil society cope with whatâ€™s required of it? Nobody knows yet.
There are concerns that the thrust of change is ultimately at odds with the character and purpose of many groups and organisations.
You can download the document for free from the NEF website, and I highly recommend giving it a look and bringing yourself up to speed with what is happening.
H/T: Mark Smith