Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ is an ‘intellectually flawed pipe dream’ for a 1950s Britain, says Unite

19 July 2010

David Cameron’s ‘passion’ for the ‘Big Society’ is ‘intellectually flawed’ and a throwback to a 1950s Britain that never existed, Unite, the largest  union in the country, said today (Monday, 19 July).

Unite, which has 60,000 members in the not for profit sector, said that the prime minister’s revival of his ‘Big Society’ pipedream failed to answer two vital questions:

  • Who is going to do all the volunteering when men and women now both have to work to pay the household bills and the increased taxes that the coalition government is imposing?
  • Where is the cash coming from when the contracts that charities bid for and third sector money are being slashed, such as the case of the leading legal agency for asylum seekers - Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) - which collapsed last month due to cash flow problems?

Rachael Maskell, national officer, community and not for profit sector, said: ”David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ is an intellectually flawed creed that harks back to a vision of 1950s Britain that never existed. We have been down this road before when John Major had a similar pipe dream of an idyllic Britain of 60 years ago.

”There is a hypocrisy here. The voluntary sector is being hit by massive cuts to its funding – for example, Croydon council has slashed 70 per cent of its voluntary sector budget.

”And the coalition’s rampant drive for greater competition – heralded by the NHS white paper last week – will drive down costs even more, especially as the ‘Big Society’ welcomes private sector interventions.

”This will mean that quality is compromised for cheapness. This culture either destroys services in organisations willing to compromise or stops them winning bids.

”Volunteering is not a replacement for jobs. Charities still need professional skills and good managers. And if we want the sector to add quality then well-trained professionals need to do this.

”The ‘Big Society’ is smoke and mirrors for an avalanche of privatisation under the Tories.”


Notes to news editors:

For further information, please ring: Rachael Maskell, national officer, community and non profit sector on 020 7420 8979 or Shaun Noble, communications officer on 020 7420 951  or 07768 693 940.

Email to a friend