What price the big society? 2,000 charities face cull

David Cameron's 'big society' agenda may not survive spending cuts
David Cameron's 'big society' agenda may not survive spending cuts

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron's promise of a 'big society' looked increasingly tenuous today after an anti-cuts group highlighted the effect of local spending cuts on charities.

The research, based on 265 freedom of information responses from local councils across England, shows thousands of charities facing deep cuts, with many losing their funding altogether.

"These are not just 'nice to have' groups but organisations providing vital services for older people trying to maintain independent lives, vulnerable children and abused women," said False Economy campaign director Clifford Singer.

"Ministers talk up localism and say services will be better shaped locally, but the huge front-loaded cuts to councils mean that local decision-making simply gives councils the choice of which vulnerable people they should make suffer for an economic crisis they did nothing to cause."

The union-funded campaign found that 2,215 charities faced reduced funding, with Birmingham city council cutting funding to the largest number of charities (191) followed by the cross-council organisation London councils, who have cut funding to 174 groups.

Net funding reductions will reach at least £110 million this year although that figure is likely to be substantially higher given that many larger authorities have not finalised their cuts programme yet.

The list of charities facing funding cuts includes 112 adult care charities, 142 elderly-related charities, 382 children's and young people-related charities and 151 disability-related charities.

"With so many of the cuts simply resulting in further pressure on the NHS or other statutory services, they are truly a false economy," Mr Singer added.

Labour siezed on the report as proof that the government needed to launch a comprehensive review on the impact of their plans on charities and local voluntary organisations.

"The government must produce a report on this in time for the House's return in September and own up to what is happening, and change course to preserve these crucial organisations," Harriet Harman said.


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