‘Big Society’ is a government washing its hands of us

What does the ‘Big Society’ really mean? Is it an attempt to devolve powers thereby giving autonomy to local people and communities, and encourage them to play an active role to provide the services many people require?

Or is it a way of passing the buck and relinquishing responsibility both morally and financially in the process?

I suggest that during such dire economic times the Big Society becomes ever more problematic to achieve, especially when in places like Grantham we have a low wage economy where people just cannot afford to contribute as they struggle to make ends meet.

Recently I attended an event at the Youth Centre. Upon enquiring about a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check that is required by volunteers to work with young people, the standard check costs £26 and the advanced check costs £44. For many of us, or for organisations, that is a lot of money to try to find in order to be able to help others.

It is good, honest, committed people that make up a quality community, and we have these people in abundance here in Grantham. The people here are such generous people, as I witnessed last Christmas when the Fire Service Christmas Float toured the Harrowby ward. I saw residents emptying jam jars of coins they had collected during the year.

These people deserve to have their kindness reciprocated with government support for our local voluntary organisations.

I note North Kesteven DC have found £2.65 Million for a new leisure centre! It’s food for thought that they can find such money during times of financial austerity. In my view a small proportion of the £665,000 that South Kesteven DC receives from the New Homes Bonus (not ring fenced money) could be well spent on supporting our voluntary sector.

To both the local and national governments I say support our local community financially, because without that vital support you are washing your hands of responsibility and all you create is a ‘you are on your own’ culture.

by Ian Selby, Labour