Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Big Society and Social History

In 2010 the UK Prime Minister launched the Big Society initiative  There were five main threads to this:
  1. Give communities more powers.
  2. Encourage people to take an active role in their communities.
  3. Transfer power from central to local government.
  4. Support charities and social enterprises.
  5. Have open and transparent government
The Big Society Network was set up in the same year in order "to generate, develop and showcase new ideas to help people to come together in their neighbourhoods to do good things." but in 2014 the Big Society Network was put into administration owing money to the government and an application was made to the Charity Commission to have the organisation wound up! David Cameron did not use the term "Big Society" in public after 2013 and the phrase is no longer used in government statements.

Critics have concluded that the Big Society was intended primarily as a mechanism for reducing the size of the state and that austerity (in other words withdrawal of central financial support) in combination with the 5 principles of the Big Society would re-invigorated civic society. It didn't.

I would go further - in my role as Chair of Governors at a local school (equivalent to a School Board in the USA) I am finding it harder and harder to attract high quality applicants to serve as governors. It is particularly hard to find Foundation Governors (representatives of the Diocese). In theory we should have 3 such governors but for most of the last 18 months we had only one and there is a very real chance that in September we will have none at all.

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