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Big Society - big deal!

Big Society - big deal!
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Big Society - big deal!1

Finance | Gordon Hunter | 20 Jul 2010

New blogger Gordon Hunter is dismayed by all the fuss over the Big Society. 

It’s a harmless concept, nothing new, just a recycling of self-help. Couldn’t all those busy 12-year-olds in the Cabinet Office come up with something crisp and new to pad out the backs of their fag packets?  I've had a few ideas of my own:

 

  • We could sack half the councils' 5,000 'community engagement officers' to pay for tax rebates in return for payroll giving (why is it that just 3.2 per cent of Brits give this way compared to 35 per cent of Americans?).
  • We should impose a maximum wage - nobody should earn more than me!
  • We ought to give unclaimed betting wins to local communities.
  • We might impose an obesity tax whereby you pay more per mars bar based on body mass index – then Mars donate extra revenue to healthy eating campaigns.
  • We must do something sensible with dormant accounts:  local community banks making grassroots grants rather than the clueless 'Big Society Wholesale Bank' with its fan club of retailers and venture capitalists punting loans to the starving.

Let’s hear it for innovation.

Gordon Hunter (pictured) is the founder and director of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation

 

Gordon Hunter
Director
Lincolnshire Community Foundation
25 Jul 2010

More on BIG Society & Localism

It doesn't matter whether you call them haut couture or charity shop chic, they're still the king's new clothes.
Jim Hacker, Minister for Administrative Affairs ..... whoops! ..... I really meant Greg Clark, Minister for Decentralisation, (and author of "total politics"!?) can promise power to the people. But that doesn't mean that local communities can actually afford to do anything.
Asserting something or, worse, re-naming it, doesn't make it happen.
The "local government leadership group" gives us Total Place; the "improvement and development agency for local government" repackages local area agreements as multi area agreements. It's still top-down hot air. We still need local people to make things happen bottom-up. And they can't do that on a wing and a prayer. They need some money.

Let's get to the point: in a time of austerity, savage cuts, increasing need and reducing service - if we are to generate communities that help themselves - then we have to give them the means. Volunteering groups need the money to set up and operate. To do that locally, we have to set up local community banks: permanent endowment, managed by local people, spending income on local projects, satisfying local needs.

Dave's BIG idea to produce a BIG bang will require BIG local bucks.

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Gordon Hunter

Gordon Hunter is director of the Lincolnshire Community Foundation, which he started in 2002, and blogs for Civil Society on all things 'local'.  He has a background in HR and an ambition to expel all thoughtless jargon.

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