Surviving or thriving in the Big Society?


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A presentation on the challenges brought about first by the recession and then by the public spending cuts, with questions for how voluntary and community organisations can help to build the big society

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  • Pilot areas: Sutton, Windsor and Maidenhead, Eden Valley in Cumbria and Liverpool. Pathfinder mutuals: North East Essex PCT; Integration of Community Health and Adult Social Services in Swindon into a coop. See list at There is an excellent briefing by Urban Forum here: Something old, new, borrowed, blue
  • Tories: “Conservative plans imply cuts to spending on public services that have not been delivered over any five-year period since the Second World War.” After protected depts, £52bn is to be saved: 22% of total DEL spending. Labour: need to find £46bn of cuts from £200bn of non protected DEL: 23% of the total LD: The broad fiscal arithmetic that faces whoever forms the next government was set out by Chancellor Alistair Darling in the March Budget. The fiscal repair job that is now needed as a result of the damage done to the UK's public finances by the financial crisis and associated recession is now estimated at £67bn. Under Labour's plans 70 per cent of this would be dealt with by 2014-15 – one-third through tax raising measures and two-thirds via spending cuts (to fall disproportionately on investment spending). No details have been published over the composition of the remaining 30 per cent aside from the fact that investment spending is to be spared from further cuts. The government's plans for public spending to 2014-15 are therefore extremely challenging. Total spending, after economy-wide inflation, is to be broadly flat. But within this debt interest spending is rising sharply, and under current policies the cost of welfare payments would continue growing as, for example, baby boomers reach the state pension age. As a result, public service budgets are set for a tight squeeze. Our estimates suggest that spending on public services over the next four years would, under current policies, face the deepest cuts since the four years from April 1976 to March 1980. Central government spending on public services could be cut, after inflation, by around 12 per cent by 2014-15 relative to 2010-11 which would be sufficient to undo almost all of the increase in this spending as a share of national income since Labour came to power. Some areas of spending are likely to receive even deeper cuts. Labour has committed to continued sharp increases in overseas aid, to some increases in spending on schools and to freeze non-investment spending on the NHS. If these pledges were made for four years (in the case of schools and the NHS the government has committed to them only for two years) then the cuts required elsewhere would, on average, reach 25 per cent of their current budgets. This would make deep cuts in spending on areas such as housing, transport and higher education unavoidable. Other possibilities to alleviate some of the pain from public services include further tax raising measures or significant cuts to welfare spending. Implications for the future: In Canada, there is a long history of government funding and co-optation of social movements, social service agencies and "civil society" actors. When this changed with neoliberal cut-backs, many movements died, and those that remain and found a way to remain autonomous are often hostile to those who obtain government funding. This tension is clear in the immigrant rights movement, antipoverty movements - and in indigenous struggles - which is riven between movement organizations and groups that are dependent on government funding and those who are membership funded.
  • The fun theory – piano steps – example of a nudge/behaviour change
  • Surviving or thriving in the Big Society?

    1. 1. Surviving or thriving in the Big Society? The Voluntary and Community Sector in 2010 and ahead Karl Wilding, Head of Research National Council for Voluntary Organisations Contact: [email_address] or Evidence|Resources|Policy|Opinion|Signposting:
    2. 2. I would like to start a discussion on… <ul><li>Where are we now and how we survived the recession </li></ul><ul><li>A new challenge? Building the Big Society </li></ul><ul><li>How CSOs might contribute to a renewal of our society and build a better, ‘good society’ </li></ul>
    3. 3. 1. Where are we now and how we survived the recession
    4. 4. The estimates in this slide pack refer to the voluntary sector only – based on the general charities definition
    5. 5. How to grow by £10bn: donors + delivery £ billions
    6. 6. Reserves
    7. 7. Free reserves
    8. 8. 2. A new challenge? Building the Big Society
    9. 9. What is The Big Society? <ul><li>In short, it’s a vision (not yet an ideology?) with 5 themes: </li></ul><ul><li>Give communities more powers </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage people to take an active role in their communities </li></ul><ul><li>Transfer power from central to local government </li></ul><ul><li>Support co-ops, mutuals, charities and social enterprises </li></ul><ul><li>Publish government data </li></ul><ul><li>Many of these themes have little or no underlying detail. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Charitable giving dipped by 11% in 2008/09… Total £10.3bn Total £11.2bn Total £9.9bn Philanthropy dipped in 2007/08: £ million+ donations fell in value from £1.6bn to £1.4bn (13%) Source: CAF/NCVO
    11. 11. Volunteering has remained relatively static
    12. 12. Cuts… Statutory funding of the VCS, 2001/01- 2007/08 (£billions). Source: NCVO Spending back to here? <ul><li>Cuts in expenditure effectively take us back to 2004/05 (LD/Lab) or 2003/04 (Tories), i.e. back to pre- Change Up levels </li></ul><ul><li>Cuts imply loss in income to the sector of £3.1-£3.2 billions, but this assumes a) no tax increases, b) VCS funded only by unprotected depts, c) political indifference to the sector </li></ul>
    13. 13. 3. How VCOs might contribute to a renewal of our society
    14. 14. The Big Society and Civil Society <ul><li>The Big Society is not the same as civil society… </li></ul><ul><li>… or a big voluntary sector. </li></ul><ul><li>The goal must not be simply a bigger society – but a better, fairer society </li></ul>
    15. 15. We support it. NCVO believes The Big Society is a good idea. But we have some questions…
    16. 16. Some questions for debate <ul><li>Does more localism just mean more power for town halls? Or communities of place? </li></ul><ul><li>Does Big Government really 'crowd out' Big Society? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we address the issue of scaling-up voluntary action? Big charities? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we cut public spending and maintain capacity to grow the Big Society? </li></ul><ul><li>Can the Big Society engage all parts of the community, not just those who shout loudest? </li></ul><ul><li>Are we prepared to stay with this for the long-term? </li></ul><ul><li>What do we – civil society - want the Big Society to be? </li></ul>