Big Society

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What is "Big Society"?

The coalition government claims that building big society is "to put more power and opportunity into people’s hands."

We want to give citizens, communities and local government the power and information they need to come together, solve the problems they face and build the Britain they want. We want society – the families, networks, neighbourhoods and communities that form the fabric of so much of our everyday lives – to be bigger and stronger than ever before. Only when people and communities are given more power and take more responsibility can we achieve fairness and opportunity for all.

Building this Big Society isn’t just the responsibility of just one or two departments. It is the responsibility of every department of Government, and the responsibility of every citizen too. Government on its own cannot fix every problem. We are all in this together. We need to draw on the skills and expertise of people across the country as we respond to the social, political and economic challenges Britain faces.

Cabinet Office 2010

Toby Blume [1] has a summary of the Big Society programme, concluding:

It's true that there's not a massive amount of detail on precisely what the Big Society entails - it's more of a framework or a ‘vision' of how things could be in the future. The government expects voluntary and community groups, charities, social enterprises and citizens to ‘fill in some of the detail' and shape it in their own ways. Maybe that makes it appear a bit vague, but it also gives some opportunities for influencing what happens - if we respond quickly as things are moving at a fair old lick. What we're not being given is a complete policy with everything worked out and planned - this is no fait accompli - which feels quite different from the way some policy was developed under the last government.

Toby Blume (2010)

However, Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, claims that the 'big society' is a "lie", since it will result in a diminished charity/voluntary sector due to funding cuts:

the £35bn voluntary sector is 40% sustained by state support – more than in most countries – so shrinking the state means shrinking the charitable sector, too. Evidence from this first small sample of ferocious cuts to come warns that charities will take the first and hardest hits.

The Guardian, 6 August 2010

Big Society Themes

Further Readings


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