Coalition Nanny's current soundbite of choice is "The Big Society". Apparently this phrase was knocked up by Tory HQ one evening before election and never actually "tested" on focus groups to see if anyone liked it, or actually knew what it was meant to mean.
I dare say it is meant to mean that we are all in this together, and that we should pull together etc.
Anyhoo, as a result of the ongoing cuts programme some sections of the "big society" have been starting to feel a little nervous. There has been a rather well co-ordinated media campaign of late by the charity sector, the members of which are worried that the speed and scale of government cuts will disadvantage those most in need and hamper the charities in their work.
I do not deny that the cuts will affect some sections to the "big society" more than others; also it is a reality of life that the poorest members of society are always adversely affected more during an economic downturn, than the richest. However, I would venture to suggest that maybe the charities are overprotesting a little too much:
1 The country is £4.8 Trillion in debt. The current debt reduction measures barely scratch the surface of that debt.
2 There are a vast number of charities in the UK, some of which appear to be targeting exactly the same groups and are quite possibly tripping up over each other and wasting time and resources via this inefficient duplication of effort.
3 Last year charities in the UK raised approximately £53BN, not all of this actually goes to the intended recipients (eg there are admin costs and fundraising costs)
4 Some of the larger, well known charities are sitting on some rather large cash reserves.
£26BN in 2001.
They argue that these are necessary in order to smooth cash flows during years of plenty and years of lean (much like the argument used by endowment companies wrt "with profit policies"). Given that we are currently experiencing lean times would it not be sensible for the charities with reserves to play their part, and use their savings to make up the shortfall from donations (much like everyone else has to do when they face financial shocks, such as redundancy?)
In short, we are facing a difficult and uncertain economic future for the next few years; if the "big society" really does exist, then should charities not also play their part by using their reserves?
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