Union says voluntary sector is on its knees after Cameron withdrew £4.4 billion funding


The Big Society is sinking without trace because there is not enough money for it to function, says Unite.

The union, which has 60,000 members in the not-for-profit sector, said the need for a ‘big name, big hitting’ minister to speak up for the voluntary sector and secure the necessary funding in the Whitehall battles was essential.

Unite said that the reason that the voluntary sector was on its knees, with services decimated and professional staff thrown onto the dole queue, was because of the £4.4bn that the coalition has withdrawn from the sector since May 2010.

Unite national officer Sally Kosky said: “The key to the crisis facing the not-for-profit sector is the dramatic haemorrhaging of financial support due to the Chancellor, George Osborne’s austerity programme, coupled with the lack of a minister with real clout to fight the charities’ corner in the corridors of Westminster and Whitehall.

“The report by the Public Administration Select Committee has confirmed what we already knew – that the Big Society is a vacuous idea, that lacks clarity.

“This policy has been used to sell a disastrous campaign of severe austerity on the public sector, charities and community organisations, which has resulted in vicious attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

“David Cameron’s continual relaunching of the Big Society – apparently, we are on the fourth such exercise – is a tribute to the Prime Minister’s reliance on rhetoric rather than substance.”

Unite recently published a campaign report which highlighted the real impact of the cuts in the voluntary sector across the whole of the UK, with real-life stories of what is happening to organisations, service users, and employees; and what this means in terms of the wider, detrimental impact on society.

Unite’s policy is for longer funding cycles to allow for continuity of provision of services; a move away from a commissioning process that favours bigger organisations that have more resources to compete; and opposition to ‘the race to the bottom’ with its focus on cost, not quality.

Unite believes that the voluntary sector is best placed to provide specialist, niche, and innovative local services.

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