We are the big society. And we have to make sure there is another meaning to community challenge – and that we fight this in every way that we can. ” That was the message from UNISON’s local government conference this afternoon, as delegates debated the Localism Act and how to defend members’ terms and conditions. Moving the motion on behalf of the national LGBT committee, Jackie Lewis sais everyone should be quite clear that the talk of ‘localism’ was merely a tactic to “open the door to privatisation”.
And she warned that: “This government is hell-bent on forcing the privatisation of all government services,” urging branches to scrutinise the way in which “councils deal with expressions of interest” very carefully. Julie Robinson for the service group executive emphasised that right to challenge “is no more than a Trojan horse to provide entrance to local services for large companies”, that it “opens door to a full procurement exercise”.
And she stressed the negative impact on equalities of all sorts of groups being able to run services, with “faith organisations, often hostile to LGBT people, able to discriminate”. Conference agreed a series of measures on continued campaigning around the issue and lobbying the government to ensure that workers are protected. http://www. unison. org. uk/conference2012/news_view. asp? did=7882 BAD IDEA Big society is failing: savaged by cuts and undermined by a collapse in trust in the government’s flagship social policy by the very people expected to cheerlead for it and drive it forward. The first category is community empowerment. • 5,000 Community Organisers will be trained by 2015 • 115 senior Organisers are already in post • Community First programme launched, providing: • ? 30m Neighbourhood Match Fund to support social action in the some of the most deprived areas of the country; • ? 50m Endowment Match Challenge, creating local endowment funds to support community projects in perpetuity. • Localism Act has ushered in:
Devolution of powers and a new “general power of competence” for local authorities, freeing them to act in the interests of local people • Enhanced local democratic accountability through directly elected mayors • Community right to challenge, enabling community groups and local authority employees to express interest in running local authority services • Community right to bid, giving local groups the right to bid to take over assets of community value • Reform of the planning system – neighbourhood planning will allow communities (residents, employees and businesses) to work together to say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go. • Whole Place Community Budgets under development in four areas. Whitehall secondees are working alongside local authority staff to redesign services around their communities instead of Whitehall siloes. • A further twelve areas are developing Neighbourhood Community Budgets. The second grouping is around Open Public Services. • Big Society Capital – the first social investment institution of its kind in the world – launched with up to ? 600m to build the social investment market • ? 3. 5m of investments already announced for projects that support local communities. • First 24 Free Schools opened in September 2011
The Government has approved 79 new, state-funded schools to open from September 2012 onwards: 55 new mainstream and 16-19 Free Schools and 13 new University Technical Colleges. • World’s first social impact bond at Peterborough prison is fully operational. • Mutualisation of civil service pension administration – MyCSP Ltd part-owned by its 500 staff • 21 Mutual Pathfinders underway • ? 10 million Mutuals Support Programme will provide professional support to new and developing mutuals • ? 107m Transition Fund to support civil society organisations who deliver public services make the transition to a tighter funding environment. • An additional ? 10m Investment and Contract Readiness Fund to help charities and social enterprises to win more capital investment and public service contracts. • A further ? 16. 8m provided to support the not-for-profit advice sector • Almost 300 VCSE organisations are engaged in delivering the Work Programme The final category is social action. • ? 21m Social Action Fund to expand, at speed, proven models of social action • Innovation in Giving Fund provides ? 10m to develop ideas that have the potential to create a step change in giving • Over 8,000 young people took part in National Citizen Service in 2011, giving over 170,000 hours of service. Up to 30,000 will take part in 2012. • International Citizen Service pilot began in March 2011.
Over 1,000 young people have already taken part; a further 7,000 by 2015 • Protection of Freedoms Act brings significant reductions in the red tape burden of Criminal Records Bureau checks and Vetting and Barring. • Join In established to build the Olympic legacy for volunteering and social action. • Civic Service launched with a commitment of 30,000 volunteering days a year by civil servants. • Giving White Paper sets out the Government’s strategy for charitable giving • Giving Summit in May 2012 to take forward specific areas for action. http://www. guardian. co. uk/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2012/may/08/big-society-achieved-a-lot-really-claim-ministers? fb=optOut