anon: (archaic or literary)
- in a short time; soon

50:50 vision

80:20 insight

The Big Society

The Big Society has been much in evidence since the Coalition came to power – or at least talk of the Big Society has. Everyone seems to have their own idea of what it means. The Cabinet Office released a short paper just after the election in 2010 and David Cameron speaks about it on occasions.

The basis of it seems to be about giving power back to communities. The theory is the community is best placed to shape itself into something the people actually need and want.

Unfortunately, these are tough times (except, perhaps, for the bankers who caused the problems), and the effects have been filtering through, mostly in the form of cuts.

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I recently came across this YouTube video. A small charity has been ‘hit’ by its District Council’s interpretation of the Big Society – they’ve said, basically, you’re on your own.

When small local charities have their Rate Relief withdrawn (why do proper charities pay rates

anyway?), it will obviously cause them a huge headache. It seems they’ve fallen foul of the Council’s small print – as this charity’s reserves are above a certain amount, they’ve lost their relief. The reserves are there so they don’t have to live from hand-to-mouth. According to a local politician, the fact that the Council has millions of pounds in reserves (for exactly the same reason) is a completely different matter.

This particular charity runs a Lido for the benefit of the local community. The charity was set up by people in the local community, when the same District Council pulled all the funding a few years back.

This is The Big Society at work. With local government putting the boot in.

It turns out this is all happening in the Prime Minster’s constituency, and he’s the Patron of the Lido – obviously friends in high places makes no difference whatsoever.

But on a positive note, all the publicity which came on the back of the YouTube video (thanks in a large part to the use of Twitter to publicise it), lead to newspaper reports and radio interviews.

And guess what … the local councillor was able to re-evaluate this particular relief, and re-instate it. The power of YouTube and Twitter (plus an enthusiastic and committed fund-raiser) can make the world of difference.

Dan – More Anon