David Cameron may support local action but what about local government?

I woke this morning to hear charities leading the news.

It did not turn out to be quite as interesting as it first seemed. Previews of David Cameron’s comments about the big society contained mainly re-heated announcements, such as setting up a big society bank.

But there was some interesting new information, such as the establishment of “vanguard communities” – a great piece of bureaucratic jargon.

Cameron also speaks about “pushing power down and seeing what happens”. Well, judging by what’s happening currently we can tell him: carnage.

Barely a day passes without news of more cuts by local authorities. London Councils, Croydon Council and Slough Borough Council are among the latest to pass on the impact of funding reductions to the voluntary sector. Often at local level the Compact has been ignored.

The government has considerable faith in the voluntary sector, whatever its motives.

But it brings back memories of a comment made by former third sector minister Kevin Brennan a few years ago. He said that one of the things Labour learned was that you couldn’t just pull a lever in Whitehall and expect things to happen locally.

Finding ways of bridging this gap between what national government wants and local government can manage is likely to remain one of the major stumbling blocks to building the big society.