Cameron defends Big Society policy - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

Cameron defends Big Society policy

David Cameron has fought back against accusations that his vision of the Big Society is simply a "cover" for Government spending cuts.

Writing in The Observer, the Prime Minister said that his initiative to hand power to local communities and voluntary organisations was intended to change the way Britain was run.



He acknowledged however that at a time of spending restraint, it would benefit society if people were prepared to volunteer more.



"Building a stronger, bigger society is something we should try and do whether spending is going up or down," he said.



"But there is a broader point to be made. As the state spends less and does less - which would be happening whichever party was in government - there would be a positive benefit if some parts of society were to step forward and do more."



His intervention came after Dame Elisabeth Hoodless - who is standing down as executive director of Community Service Volunteers, Britain's biggest volunteering charity - warned that spending cuts could obliterate the existing volunteer base.



Mr Cameron insisted that ministers were opening up billions of pounds worth government contracts so that charities and social enterprises can compete for the first time.



"The scale of this opportunity dwarfs anything they've ever had before," he said.



He acknowledged however that "while the opportunity lies in the future", local councils were seeing their budgets cut now.



In order to bridge the gap, he said that ministers would be launching a transition fund to help charities bid for bid those contracts and a Big Society bank to provide some working capital for the successful applicants.



"We are not naively hoping the seeds will grow everywhere of their own accord; we are helping to nurture them," he said.



"That's why we will soon be announcing the partners who will help us deliver our commitment to provide 5,000 community organisers in the areas where they are needed most."



Mr Cameron also dismissed suggestions that the Big Society was too vague a concept to mean anything.



"True, it doesn't follow some grand plan or central design. But that's because the whole approach of building a bigger, stronger, more active society involves something of a revolt against the top down, statist approach of recent years," he said.



"The Big Society is about changing the way our country is run. That's why the Big Society is here to stay."







Labour leader Ed Miliband said that the Big Society was a "failure" which had been undermined by the Government's cuts.



"No one can volunteer at a library or a Sure Start centre if it's being closed down," he said in an article for The Independent on Sunday.



"And nor can this Conservative-led government build a Big Society while simultaneously undermining its foundations with billions of pounds worth of cuts to the voluntary sector."



He added: "What does all this substance and style remind us of? The early 1980s, and the Thatcher government which appeared intent on ripping apart our social and economic fabric."



The Archbishop of York John Sentamu said investment was needed to allow the Big Society to flourish.



Asked on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show about the effect of cuts on charities, he said: "I think everybody has got to be concerned, I don't think that Kenneth Clarke was just speaking out of turn that once these cuts begin to come they will be very deep and they will cause quite a lot of difficulty."



He added: "The Big Society, which is right, has got to build capacity and investment has got to go into it."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Undergraduates will be able to study beatboxing and performance poetry at one of Europe’s leading conservatoires for the first time, after the Guildhall School of Music and Drama revealed plans for a “groundbreaking” degree course.

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week