Big Society toothless, says Archbishop
David Cameron's Big Society initiative is toothless and could be used to allow ministers to wash their hands of responsibility for the impact of spending cuts, the Archbishop of Westminster warned.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has been a supporter of the Prime Minister's call for an expansion of voluntary and community engagement.
But he said the philosophy still lacked substance and was at a "critical point" as people started to feel the pain of the severe squeeze on public service budgets.
"It is all very well to deliver speeches about the need for greater voluntary activity, but there needs to be some practical solutions," he told the Sunday Telegraph.
"At the moment the Big Society is lacking a cutting edge. It has no teeth."
"We're now at a very critical point, with the philosophy of the Big Society getting clearer, but on the other hand the effects of the cuts are becoming real and there's real pressure about what will happen on the ground."
The Government could not simply "cut expenditure, wash its hands of expenditure and expect that the slack will be taken up by greater voluntary activity", he said.
"Devolving greater power to local authorities should not be used as a cloak for masking central cuts.
"It is not sufficient for the Government, in its localism programme, simply to step back from social need and say this is a local issue."
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said the Government was "up front about the need for cuts" and was ready to launch more "tools" such as the Big Society Bank and training 5,000 community organisers.
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...