'Big blow for Big Society' as £25m cuts hit volunteers

David Cameron's Big Society just got a little smaller, after £25m funding for volunteering was cut.

The Department for Education has told charities involved in the Youth Community Action programme for under-16s that it is axing £14m funding for this year – an 18 per cent cut in the budget. This will save the ministry just £7m. A scheme to create a Facebook-style website for young volunteers to share experiences is among the shelved projects.

The youth volunteering charity V loses £8m for its vschools scheme, and faces cutting more than 90 jobs. Terry Ryall, its chief executive, branded the cuts "a big blow for Big Society", and a "false economy" when the start-up investment has already been made.

An Education Department spokesman stressed that despite these "difficult choices" the Government remains "fully committed to youth volunteering".

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office slipped out a press release announcing savings of £11m from unallocated funding to encourage volunteering.

Tessa Jowell, a Labour spokesperson, said: "There is a big and growing hole in the Big Society narrative – the difference between cheap words and the reality of this government's actions."

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