Posts Tagged: Big Society Bank

B****cks or knitting? You choose…

A cartoon by Steve Bell a while ago showed a masked robber in the Big Society Bank being told that they didn’t have any money as such – only bollocks. “Put the bollocks in a bag, and hurry,” says the robber.

The original of this cartoon was presented as a farewell gift yesterday to Nick Hurd, who resigned as minister for civil society in July, by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Hurd was, of course, the apostle of social investment and one of his proudest achievements was the launch of the bank – actually called Big Society Capital – in 2012. Read more on B****cks or knitting? You choose……

Big society fatigue sets in

It’s been hard to get away from the big society in the last couple of weeks. All the papers – including the Sun – have been on about it, and every second programme on radio and TV has been trying to get a handle on it.

Read more on Big society fatigue sets in…

Just how useful is the Big Society Bank going to be?

The announcement that the Big Society Bank
was to receive £200m funding
“on a commercial basis”, rather than £1bn as a
gift, surprised a lot of people, including, it appeared from some conversations
I had yesterday, some people in the banks and the Treasury themselves.

Read more on Just how useful is the Big Society Bank going to be?…

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.

Read more on David Cameron may support local action but what about local government?…

Quick, savage cuts may be good for the economy but they will damage the voluntary sector

A few weeks ago, Nick Hurd, the new minister for civil society, toured Paddington Development Trust, a charity that provides community services.

Afterwards he declared himself well satisfied. The trust, he said, was an “emblem of the big society in action”.

Barely a fortnight later Hurd’s colleagues in the Communities and Local Government department stepped in and made a decision which will take hundreds of thousands out of the trust’s £3.4m budget this year and much more in years to come. The trust fears it could eventually lose three quarters of its funding.

Read more on Quick, savage cuts may be good for the economy but they will damage the voluntary sector…

I’m willing to bet Nick Hurd a tenner the big society bank won’t open on time

The Cabinet Office recently laid out clear goals in its structural reform plan for what it will achieve, and when.

The plan is a set of apparently cast-iron policy guarantees that the third sector can rely on.

It includes 14 measures to bring about the prophesied big society, which if they are kept will have largely transformed the third sector by the middle of next year.

The measures include initiatives to reduce bureaucracy for small charities by autumn, a fund for communities by Christmas, a new generation of community organisers in the new year, and a functional Big Society Bank before the chocolate eggs are opened on Easter morning.

Given the propensity of governments to miss targets by a country mile, the list appears to offers several substantial hostages to fortune. It would be amazing if all these targets were hit.

It is more likely that as pressure grows, resources are cut and deadlines approach, many of them will recede into the distance like the end of the rainbow.

One in particular which seems optimistic is the promise to set up a Big Society Bank in ten months.

It’s a great idea which really needs to happen, but before the first funds can be committed, a lot of infrastructure must be constructed – there are offices to be chosen, staff to be hired, innumerable legal hurdles to be overcome.

The money that is to be lent must also be extracted from the vaults of a group of recalcitrant banks that are noticeably short of cash.

The Big Society Bank is the first creation of its kind, a cutting-edge concept which could be the envy of the world. And because it is cutting edge, it will run into a huge number of unexpected hurdles which will need to be overcome on the way, and which have probably not been factored into this plan.

I’m willing to bet Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, a tenner that there will be no funds from the Big Society Bank available by April. I’m pretty confident my money’s safe – although it’s a bet I’d be happy to lose.

Read more on I’m willing to bet Nick Hurd a tenner the big society bank won’t open on time…