All posts tagged 'Big-Society'

Charities feel the pinch as councils trim budgets: what about the Big Society?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, August 5 2011

FACED with having to trim their budgets by 28 per cent over the next four years, it is no surprise that more than 70 voluntary groups and charities in Kent are set to see their grants cut back or withdrawn completely this year.

There is no doubt that there will have to be some painful decisions for these organisations, who frequently provide vital welfare help for the vulnerable and less well-off members of society.

Charities hit as councils pare back spending>>

Looking at the list, you can't help but notice how many are organisations helping children, disabled and vulnerable adults.

But it is worth pointing out that the survey carried out by False Economy (which is a trade union sponsored organisation) finds a mixed picture across Kent with several councils managing to maintain support this year at the same levels as last year.

It is also worth highlighting that many of these councils had elections this year at about the time some of them were wrestling with these awkward decisions. (Plenty of politicians will have been wary of taking an axe to charities just at the time they were soliciting support from voters.)

So, while it is undoubtedly bad news that charities and voluntary groups are losing in total some £866,000 I suspect there may be even worse news to come for some in the next two years. Let's hope David Cameron's Big Society bank can plug some of the shortfall.

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Categories: Precept

Will KCC find enough people to provide its youth services?

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Tuesday, July 12 2011

There is, unsurprisingly, some positive rhetoric around the county council's plans to revamp its youth services.

Major revamp of youth services planned: read our story>>>

We are told, in a lengthy and often confusing report, that it is about “the vision for the transformation of Kent Youth Service and the innovative model of service delivery” and a plan that “combines excellence in direct delivery with commmissioned local providers to deliver creative approaches for young people to engage in youth work opportunities in their communities.” Phew.

The bits about potential job losses, the closure of a raft of youth centres and the signficant risk that there may nto be enough providers out there to take on all the current activities that KCC provides are not easily found.

But they merit attention, especially the question of whether KCC can successfully outsource to other organisations. On this, the report is circumspect, admitting: "It is unknown at this stage how many newly commissioned projects will replace those which are directly delivered following consultation" and can only sat that "it is anticipated that a greater number of smaller projects will replace the current delivery pattern."

In another section, it says where KCC is no longer the provider via youth centres, alternatives could be continued through newly-commissioned providers - note the element of uncertainty.

The most telling comment comes in a section headed "Risk and Business Continuity Management" where the council states: "There is a significant risk to the quality and capacity of service delivery at the outset of the Commissioning Model."

Interestingly, KCC also seems prepared to accept that it might actually have to provide money to some of these new social entrepeneurs to get them on to a sound footing. And how are they proposing this? "The process may require access to Kent's Big Society Fund and other sources for newly-created social enterprises."

So, youth services are being outsourced to save money but in order to save that money, KCC may be in the odd position of giving financial support to the organisations that take on this work.

Is youth services being used by Kent as a test bed for the Big Society? The authority has allocated £5m to its own fund and clearly would want to see some results from a decision that some have found a little odd. 

I have no idea whether KCC's vision for its youth services will work and even less idea about whether it will result in better services. But there are clearly some doubts if you examine the language used by the council in its report. 

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Categories: Politics

A little sceptical about Big Society

by The Codgers' Club Friday, February 18 2011
by Alan Watkins
The government will have to go a long way to convince sceptical Old Codgers that the Big Society is anything other than a cover for spending cuts.
We are scuttling most of our warships. Future RAF pilots are being shot down by trigger-happy civil servants just when they think they have earned their wings.
So why shouldn’t smooth-talking politicians expect Codgers to start writing our own prescriptions?

They must be delighted if we carry out modifications to our homes so that future frail oldies have lifts ready to ferry them to and from the bedroom and the “other room”.
They already expect our neighbours (and complete strangers) to provide voluntary assistance in so many ways that we won’t have a need for councils and highly paid staff.
We have ex-Chancellor and now Lord, Ken Clarke, warning that the government had better expect a backlash when Middle England realises how serious the situation is about to become.
Our financial state doesn’t have anything to do with the postwar baby boom and long-living residents.
The boom brats are the people who put their money into bank accounts and building societies, stocks and shares to build up funds for their retirement years, only for the people they trusted to suddenly go crazy and lose trillions of pounds, dollars, Euros and anything else that Codgers thought would sustain their retirements. Remember the saying: “As safe as houses”?
The past few years have been littered with big names (often backed by the government) swallowing the savers’ funds and then going bust.
For 20 years the Stepping Stones nursery has been the prime example of what David Cameron wants the Big Society to be. This week it folded. Citizens Advice Bureaux are worrying that they could go.
The government says it wants us to put our funds into its Big Society bank. Then the bank will have funds to support good charitable causes.

Instead, let’s do what my old granny did – put the cash in her savings bank. It was a little chamber that slipped under the bed. It was safer than some of the harebrained schemes which have allowed our politicians to wring their hands and bankers to waltz off with massive bonuses.

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Big Society or Broken Society?

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Monday, November 15 2010

Why doesn’t the Government link the Broken Society with the Big Society?

While there is plenty of stick - with people who refuse to take up a job offer three times being barred from benefits for three years - there should be more carrot that recognises and rewards voluntary work.

As local councils pull out of service provision, good-hearted folk are expected to fill the gaps. Many have been doing this for years but the need to work such long hours to make ends meet has inevitably diminished the volunteer ethic. Anyone involved in a local organisation knows how hard it is to replace long-serving stalwarts with younger people.

If you are unemployed, most of your time is filled with the desperate and frustrating search for a job. They should be given an incentive to do voluntary work until the paid job turns up.

The proposed universal credit and the existing benefit system should recognise the value of voluntary work through a bonus. I know the overall aim is to save public money, but a financial incentive to join the Big Society may go some way to addressing the problems of the Broken Society.

Categories: Business

Enter The Big Society?

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, November 5 2010

As fireworks explode over Kent and Medway tonight, few people will be worrying about the bonfire of quangoes and the torching of public services. But this incineration will have profound effects on all of us. What if anything, will fill their place? Enter The Big Society.

As was admitted at yesterday’s stimulating conference in Dover Cruise Terminal 2, it remains a vague and fuzzy concept. And in many ways it’s nothing new. Voluntary groups have been doing great local work for centuries.

As Emily Shepherd of Canterbury Diocese said, the church has been doing Big Society for 2,000 years. What is new is the urgent need for more of it at a time when there are fewer resources. People in work are having to devote more time to employment to pay their mortgage.

They have precious little time to volunteer. But there is an opportunity here for public sector workers about to be thrown onto the dole. They are savvy and often altruistic folk who might be in a position to set up social enterprises or co-ops.

I know the Government is cutting costs, but how about encouraging the unemployed to do more voluntary work by offering a small bonus for community work, on top of JobSeekers Allowance, while they are looking for a job? These are changing times and self-help is the name of the game.

There is a huge opportunity for businesses, local entrepreneurs, and social entrepreneurs to pull together for the good of those who are going to suffer from fewer Government handouts.

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Categories: Business

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