I’ll give him his due. The Brylcreem Warrior always has a smile glued to his fatuous face during his very public vapourings about localism and the rising tide of ‘entrepreneurs’ who are supposed to sail the Good Ship Britannia towards a safe harbour. There’s nothing safe about his shenanigans though.
‘Why?’ you may ask with an ugly sneer smeared across your lips, as you advance towards me, coalition manifesto in hand as though to batter me to death with that tome of the party faithful.
‘Simple’, say I, retreating slightly before your withering gaze. ‘There’s no-one left to deliver Deluded Dave’s perfectly potty vision’. Even a swift straw poll will reveal that local services are dying out faster than fleas on a dead feline. Virtually nothing has been left untouched, as the voluntary organisations, who will supposedly step in – like the hero in a cheezoid Hollywood movie – lose their grant funding and lay off their staff in droves.
Oh, go ahead and volunteer then, but don’t expect to actually get paid for your trouble. Not a bean will you get, because this year heralds a tsunami of public sector job cuts. ‘So what, I don’t work for the public sector. And anyway, they’re a bunch of greedy bastards chugging along on the gravy train.’
Wrong fool. They deliver the local services (‘localism’ in action!) which we all depend on. Are you old, and did you depend on Supporting People grant funding to pay for your meals on wheels? Bad news I’m afraid; that particular pot of money is no longer protected. To use the parlance of the public sector it’s been ‘un-ringfenced’. It will now be used to deliver essential LOCAL services – or should I say, ‘More essential than looking after all those inconvenient oldies who clutter up our country. Hell – they haven’t got long left, so why even think about them?’
All right then. Are you a young person trying to get a start in life. Too bad! Your LOCAL (there’s a clue there isn’t there) Connexions service has already been axed by Dave the Tory Tyrant and his band of thieving brigands. You’ll be okay though, because these days you should apparently ‘take responsibility for yourself’ and do your own donkey work. No-one could accuse this lot of shirking when it comes to unfeeling idiocy. Whatever happened to cooperation as a way of getting things done?
Are you a small organisation trying to deliver local services to your members, thereby generating the ‘green shoots’ of economic recovery we sometimes hear about? Too bad. Who do you think will supply your grant funding now? The public sector. Sorry! Its pockets are empty. The private sector? Nope – they are laying people off and pulling up their proverbial drawbridges. Localism is a canard – where else can services be delivered if not locally? In dream land obviously.
Some people view the public, private and charitable (third-sector) as completely separate, and the coalition often implies that local authorities should look to the private sector for greater efficiencies. This overlooks one simple fact: these sectors are not independent, they are completely interdependent. Local government is quite complex, but historically, it has been very good at working in partnership with both private and voluntary organisations. The coalition’s massive round of public sector cuts is tearing apart private contractors, and forcing charities to withdraw funding from people who really need it.
Localism and the ‘big society’ is akin to chopping your friend’s legs off and saying, ‘Go for a walk pal’. It’s an irrational idea used to mask the real agenda: the removal of the Welfare State. I support the idea of distinctive local services, and I even agree that the third sector should play a much stronger role in society. Third sector organisations must be supported and enabled, but instead they are being quietly pruned to death through an act of ideological vandalism.
Don’t believe me? I can prove it. This site contains data showing that so far cuts to the voluntary sector total almost £49,000,000 – and that’s just the start. In case you are thinking, ‘What’s this got to do with a blog about bohemian life?’ I would say, ‘Loads’. Those small distinctive organisations help to prop up creative projects around the country. Without them we might as well sell out and get jobs in call centres, because at this rate there won’t be much left of our local services.