Using the real Big Society to undo the damage of Cameron’s Big Society
Posted on 8 September 2011 | 6:09am
I’ve been back from holiday for a few days, but am still not back in the swing of things, so apologies to anyone who has missed my political and other musings. Thought I would ease myself back in with a guest blog from Labour councillor Sarah Hayward.
It is worth a read. It is how people like her and trying to use a progressive version of the Big Society to make sense of Cameron’s version, which involves calling on charities to lift the load, whilst removing the resources they had to do so. It is exactly as she wrote it, though in that New Labour control freak way of mine, I did deal with a split infinitive by moving the word ‘shamelessly’ in the opening paragraph.
I hope Sarah doesn’t mind my grammatical pedantry, and many thanks for posting the blog. I hope your scheme gets a good response.
Dig deep and help a Camden charity survive
Alastair has very kindly given over his blog to me to plug shamelessly a new Camden Labour initiative to help support local charities through the maelstrom of cuts we face. We’ve just launched a new facility on the council’s website that allows people with a bit of spare cash to easily find local charities to donate to.
Like everywhere else in the country Camden charities face an unprecedented level of cuts. As a local authority we’ve historically been (and still will be) one of the largest funders of charities in the country through grants and contracts. Sadly, this great record can mean that charities are more vulnerable to our cuts. But it’s not just us. The speed and depth of government cuts mean that charities that have helped deliver public services face a potentially fatal loss of funding from all over the public sector. To name just some of the bodies who’ve axed programmes or cut funding in Camden: The Home Office, the Arts Council, Ministry of Justice, London Councils, the Police, the PCT.
The level of cuts Camden faces is pernicious. The Government target authorities with higher deprivation, like Camden, for higher levels of cuts. So we lost more as both a proportion and absolutely of our budget than better off places like Richmond and Dorset. Only a Tory Government can think it’s fair to hit places like Camden, Hackney and Doncaster harder than Richmond.
But what Camden does still have going for it, is that alongside the poverty we have astonishing wealth. And across the spectrum we have astonishing community spirit and generosity. That’s what gave me the idea to use Camden Councils high volumes of web traffic to a beneficial end. Many people who live here might not know about the youth club or luncheon club round the corner that’s now struggling to make ends meet and more importantly struggling to help people. So we’ve given generous Camden people an easy way to find local organisations who help people in our local communities.
The website’s grouped by theme so you can choose what type of organisation or activity you want to support. The donation is made via the charity’s own payment facility, so every penny goes direct to them and, if you’re a UK taxpayer you can easily gift aid the donation. Any charity based in Camden that works for the benefit of Camden residents can list so if you aren’t already part of the action contact me and I’ll make sure you are.
The donation page is just one step of a number that we’re taking to help Camden charities survive. Hopefully we’ll be able to announce something significant around business leverage next month. I’m determined that we should do everything we can to try to protect the local community organisations that do so much for people here in Camden. With your help we might just keep open the doors of some very valuable local organisations. So dig deep and help keep Camden charities alive.
Cllr Sarah Hayward
Cabinet Member for Community Development, Regeneration & Equalities
King’s Cross Ward