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Private sector bias is ‘killing’ Big Society

The ‘Big Society’ is leaving millions behind, a new report has warned.

Think tank Civil Exchange has conducted its Big Society Audit 2013, setting out the dangers of private sector monopolies running services and cuts to the most disadvantaged.

People with disabilities are bearing 29% of the cuts and only one in five people living in the most deprived areas now feel that they can trust others, compared to nearly three-quarters in the most affluent areas.

Mega-corporations are now running many public services, despite the government’s commitment to diversify, the report states. Contracts are also facilitating “a race to the bottom” on quality.

The audit does show that there has been significant growth in communities taking control of local amenities and the level of volunteering has risen, but Civil Exchange is calling for a new model for public services to improve this further.

More investment in early action and social infrastructure, increased understanding of the potential of the voluntary sector and designing services collaboratively are all needed, Civil Exchange has urged. The government must also ensure that Big Society operates ethically and guarantees not to cut costs at the expense of quality.

Director of Civil Exchange and principal author of the report, Caroline Slocock, said: “Millions of people, especially those who might need it most, are being excluded from the Big Society, as cuts hits them hardest and trust in others – the social glue that holds the Big Society together – fails to bind disadvantaged communities.

“It is government’s bias towards the private sector that is killing the idea of the Big Society, while the charities to which people in need turn are left out in the cold. It’s time for politicians to match actions to words. A good start would be to value the not-for-profit experts who have the know how to help them tackle complex and costly social problems and the capacity to deliver public services on a human scale.”

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P Speak   09/12/2013 at 17:11

Dumb government policy that one size fits all such as the benefit cuts affect the most vulnerable in society as it does not make allowance for individual circumstances and needs (and what is within their control to change). We need more intelligent policy makers that consider the impact on lives and a gradual phasing of policy to ascertain how it could be more fair and just rather than a blunt and dumb tool without any thought on the consequences on both individual and society.

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