Big society seminar prof. pete alcock


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  • Hugo Young speech first major public platform – Cameron’s idea Cameron repeated Big Society ideas in April 2010 election speech But much longer roots in Conservative thinking – Deakin identified similar themes in 1980s Thatcher ministers Jose Harris paper takes the concept back to ‘Great Society’ writings of 19 th and early 20 th centuries Problem here is openness of concept – return to this later…..
  • Appointment of Nat Wei to Lords as Advisor on Big Society – resigned in 2011 citing pressure of this voluntary role on his need to work! Further speeches by Cameron to repeat commitment to Big Society, plus Frances Maude (Cabinet Office lead) and (most recent) Nick Hurd (Minister for Civil Society – letter to third sector leaders Oct 11)
  • Use of Civil Society challenges notion of sector – could be divisive for sector compared to partnership discourse of New Labour Civil Society has older and broader roots – and debate about whether it is a sector or a form of social interaction, see Evers… But commitments non-contentious, not new – motherhood and apple pie!
  • Centre right needed new narrative to respond to recession and New Labour third way. Distance from neo-liberalism and free markets Distance from state/public sector – by associating this with New Labour profligacy and failure New narrative also able to incorporate Liberal Democrat concerns with localism and citizen rights.
  • Much of rhetoric political and terminological distancing from New Labour – this will fade with time Is Big Society just ‘not the Big State’? Return to this later May depend on policy programmes that will put it into practice
  • £10m fund for fledgling mutuals to reach investment readiness Linked to localism below Taskforces to come up with ideas – but not much use of existing infrastructure and expertise White paper needs more details for implementation – DWP Work Programme has excluded VCS providers ‘ I expect the Big Society Bank to become operational and start making investments in early 2012’ Hurd Nov11 Nick O’Donohoe (former JP Morgan) to be CEO.
  • Localism a key Liberal Democrat priority Right to Provide and Right to Challenge in Localism Act – but not much more that procedural rights. Vanguards announced by Cameron in July 2010 speech, little preparation (Liverpool CC knew nothing!). No resources for vanguards, no clear agenda – ideas to emerge ‘bottom-up’, eg. running libraries, post offices and pubs, delivering local broadband. Liverpool CC withdrew 2 Feb 2011 – Phil Redmond (Brookside), Cameron’s champion said: no support, too top down, nothing new, not enough to build on what is already there
  • Pilots for NCS this summer – only 8,500 of 11,000 places filled – 30,000 planned for next year – Princes Trust has withdrawn as provider – to be delivered by DfE after 2012. Locality training community organisers first cohort now in place. Community grants and endowments require matched funding
  • Strategic Partners – all main infrastructure agencies – cut from 42 to 11 – excluded equalities organisations (Voice4Change), though they later got one-off £297,000 contract Funding cut from £12.2m to £4m in 2011 - £3m in 2012, £2m in 2013, then zero - major redundancies in NCVO, NAVCA, VE, etc £30m Transforming Local Infrastructure Fund – delivered by BIG lottery NCVO predict £2.8bn loss for sector by 2015.
  • Although some innovation (National Citizens Service – but this at cost of other volunteering support, eg. V), policy direction similar to Labour – especially in expectations of sector roles OCS maintains government commitment to engage directly with sector and co-ordinate policy at centre of government – but cutting back and restructuring limits that, will it survive??
  • Research evidence suggests significant changes unlikely NCVO predicts £2.8bn in lost support Work Programme puts delivery in hands of private sector primes – Hurd admits this has not led to expected role for VCS organisations
  • i.e. % percentage of organisations recording an increase in income from year-to-year A few points to note relating to all of the slides 1. Date of financial records The data are based on comparing consecutive financial years. For example, 2011 on the graph is comparing: -financial year ending sometime in the period April 2010-March 2011, with: -financial year ending sometime in the period April 2009-March 2010. 2. There is a lag of about 10 months between the end of a financial year and when charities have to submit their annual return, which is why the data that we have isn’t even more recent. 3. Since these are comparing just between one financial year and the next, I haven’t adjusted for inflation here. 4. Note that the scale on the y-axis doesn’t always start at 0.
  • Percentage of organisations showing year-on-year declines in income of more than 25%.
  • Political rhetoric like Labour’s ‘Third Way’? Labour now developing alternative discourse – Good Society Loss of support from Nat Wei and Phil Redmond damaging
  • Devolution – different policies and politics in Scotland, Wales and N Ireland Different political configuration after 2011 elections – Nationalists in Scotland, Minority Labour in Wales, DUP/Sinn Fein/etc Assembly in NI Similar policies being pursued in Scotland, Wales and N Ireland – but without Big Society Rhetoric…..
  • Big Society concept is vague – this creates space for interested parties to claim that space, and develop discourses of Big Society to shape it. Labour now reconsidering its position – developing rhetoric of ‘Good Society’ National Coalition for Independent Action – self-appointed voice of ‘real’ VCS
  • Big society seminar prof. pete alcock

    1. 1. The Big Society: New Direction or Empty Space? Pete Alcock University of Birmingham
    2. 2. The Big Society and the Cameron Conservatives <ul><li>Core theme of Cameron and Conservative Party in run up to 2010 election </li></ul><ul><li>Hugo Young speech – November 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Building a Big Society paper – April 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Manifesto – your contribution to government… </li></ul><ul><li>But – confusion on the door-step, profile dropped… </li></ul>
    3. 3. Coalition Government <ul><li>Big Society quickly back on the agenda </li></ul><ul><li>May 18 – PM and DPM </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Big Society at the heart of public sector reform…’ </li></ul><ul><li>Early policy statement – Building the Big Society, </li></ul><ul><li>July 19 – PM </li></ul><ul><li>Liverpool Big Society speech – ‘ my great passion ’, ‘ huge culture change ’ </li></ul>
    4. 4. Office for Civil Society <ul><li>Dropping of Third Sector – ‘term abolished’, Cameron. </li></ul><ul><li>But OCS retained in Cabinet Office, to lead on – </li></ul><ul><li>Making it easier to run voluntary organisations </li></ul><ul><li>Making it easier for organisations to work with the state </li></ul><ul><li>Getting more resources into the sector </li></ul><ul><li>Further policy papers - Building a Stronger Civil Society, Supporting a Stronger Civil Society, Better Together …. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Big Society – New Political Discourse? <ul><li>A new narrative for centre-right Conservatism? </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of Credit Crunch and Recession – failure of free market - abandon the New Right? </li></ul><ul><li>Dismissal of New Labour ‘Big State’ – failure of public sector - reject the Centre Left? </li></ul><ul><li>Cover for extensive cuts in public welfare expenditure – </li></ul><ul><li>need for DIY welfare?! </li></ul>
    6. 6. Big Society – Old Political Rhetoric? <ul><li>Fetishism over change in terminology – third sector to civil society, pilots to vanguards, grassroots to communities… </li></ul><ul><li>Determination to distance Coalition from New Labour – and blame Labour for all problems </li></ul><ul><li>New terms – but appeals to old rhetoric </li></ul><ul><li>The Big Society: just ‘not the Big State’?? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Cabinet Office Policy Programme
    8. 8. Policy Programme <ul><li>Making it easier for charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations </li></ul><ul><li>Red Tape Taskforce and Mutuals Taskforce </li></ul><ul><li>White Paper – Open Public Services (Market competition – Pricing not costing) </li></ul><ul><li>Big Society Bank – Big Society Capital (‘up to’ £400m in dormant accounts – plus £200m promised from leading banks) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Policy Programme <ul><li>Localism and Decentralisation </li></ul><ul><li>Devolve power to local government – and drive down to neighbourhoods and communities </li></ul><ul><li>Public sector workers to create employee-owned enterprises ( Right to Provide) </li></ul><ul><li>Communities to propose opening up local services ( Right to Challenge) </li></ul><ul><li>Four ‘vanguard communities’ – [ Liverpool ], Windsor and Maidenhead, Sutton, Eden Valley (Cumbria) </li></ul>
    10. 10. Policy Programme <ul><li>Volunteering and Community Action </li></ul><ul><li>National Citizens Service for 16 year olds - ‘Voluntary’ experience for all in summer after GCSEs </li></ul><ul><li>Train 5000 community organisers – to be self funding (£2m to co-fund 800 places by 2012) </li></ul><ul><li>Community First Grants - £30m for co-funding, plus £50m to support local endowments </li></ul><ul><li>£42.5m four year fund for Volunteering Infrastructure </li></ul>
    11. 11. Public Spending Review <ul><li>Massive reductions in public support for third sector </li></ul><ul><li>OCS Budget cut by around 60% </li></ul><ul><li>Review of QUANGOS – Capacitybuilders, Commission for Compact - closed </li></ul><ul><li>End of central support – Futurebuilders, Change-up, Social Enterprise Investment Fund </li></ul><ul><li>Cuts in support for Strategic Partners (from 42 – 11) </li></ul><ul><li>Local authority funding under pressure ( False Economy - found 2000 charities experiencing £110m cuts in 2011) </li></ul>
    12. 12. Innovation or Continuity? <ul><li>Most policies continue existing trends </li></ul><ul><li>Public service delivery </li></ul><ul><li>Community Organisers and Community First </li></ul><ul><li>Mutuals and Social Enterprises – Right to Provide </li></ul><ul><li>Big Society Bank </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging giving and volunteering </li></ul><ul><li>Role of OCS…. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Delivery Challenges Remain <ul><li>Expenditure cuts threaten third sector organisations </li></ul><ul><li>No evidence for increase in volunteering </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence of decline in charitable giving </li></ul><ul><li>Geographical and social inequalities in voluntary action </li></ul><ul><li>Market based commissioning excludes many </li></ul><ul><li>Little evidence of community appetite for service transfer (Liverpool dropped out of Vanguards) </li></ul>
    14. 14. Workforce composition
    15. 15. Finances of Organisations <ul><li>What is happening to the finances of charities </li></ul><ul><li>We now have financial returns for 2010-11 from several thousand charities </li></ul><ul><li>Proportion experiencing an upturn in resources is comparable with 2009 to 2010 – a hangover from first recession </li></ul><ul><li>Proportion experiencing a reduction in funding of 25% or more has gone up </li></ul><ul><li>But note: this is early filers from 2011 – so public expenditure reductions may not have taken effect </li></ul>
    16. 16. Year-on-year increases in income
    17. 17. Year-on-year declines of more than 25%
    18. 18. Volunteering and Giving <ul><li>Volunteering </li></ul><ul><li>Citizenship survey: rates for 2010-11 statistically indistinguishable from 2009-10 </li></ul><ul><li>But stability hides substantial decline in some regions - though we need individual-level data to confirm this </li></ul><ul><li>Giving to charity </li></ul><ul><li>CMPO-CGAP work suggests long-run slow decline in proportions who give </li></ul><ul><li>NCVO-CAF survey suggests numbers giving to charity increasing but again statistically indistinguishable from last year </li></ul><ul><li>So no immediate upturn - but no obvious downturn either </li></ul>
    19. 19. Where is the Civic Core?
    20. 20. Big Society – New Direction? <ul><li>Big Society too vague – deliberately? </li></ul><ul><li>New theory? </li></ul><ul><li>But analysts suggest it has older roots – and claim it vindicates different approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Old practice? </li></ul><ul><li>Just an attempt to distance government from previous administration </li></ul><ul><li>But in practice policy development will be about (continuing) public sector reform, community action and third sector support </li></ul>
    21. 21. Big Society – New Direction? <ul><li>Contradictory tensions </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation claimed - but in practice change is incremental </li></ul><ul><li>Big Society must be built bottom-up – but government policy works top-down </li></ul><ul><li>Big Society posed as alternative to Big State – but in practice both are needed, and used </li></ul><ul><li>Big Society is English discourse – different politics in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland </li></ul>
    22. 22. Big Society – Empty Space? <ul><li>Big Society – Space for competing discourses </li></ul><ul><li>Think tanks – Respublica : change to delivery of public services </li></ul><ul><li>ACEVO – Third sector to replace state </li></ul><ul><li>NCIA – Sector should distance itself from state </li></ul><ul><li>NAVCA, etc – Smaller organisations need state support </li></ul><ul><li>Labour Party – ‘Good Society’ </li></ul><ul><li>TSRC research on developing discourses…. </li></ul>
    23. 23. New Direction or Empty Space? <ul><li>Big Society politics and policy are not so new, and not so settled </li></ul><ul><li>Look to policy practice – not political rhetoric </li></ul><ul><li>Real political contest is over ‘Big State’ – not Big Society </li></ul><ul><li>Can competing discourses challenge underlying anti-state and free market preferences? </li></ul>