Friday 4 February 2011

Letter No 11: Not enough of the pie to go around

At Christmas I wrote to Dave and Nick about CAB funding. I'd been talking to my Dad who was involved in local politics for many years. Like much of my family, he still lives in Liverpool and since retirement has volunteered in the community without need for any brainwave or rebrand from Westminster. He told me that the city was steeling itself for tough times. As far as I can see it's not the only one and when last week's news came of 1500 redundancies in a city that heads the deprivation list of English councils, I knew the time had come to put in a word for my birthplace.

Dave's call for "people power" came to mind when it was announced yesterday evening that Liverpool had decided to withdraw from the 'Big Society' pilot scheme. It follows a clear message sent by faith groups in December last year. The Government's response to Liverpool's decision was also predictable, though a bit of an own goal as far as I can see. Damien Green was right that someone had made a 'political gesture,' but not Liverpool; you'd have to go way back to July 10 to find out who that was. People aren't fooled; the success of Big Society will always be dependent on sufficient funding rather than volunteers and the evidence comes topdown if Lord Wei is anything to go by. Set up to work alongside drastic cuts to council funding, the scheme looks like a cynical attempt to get for free something which should be provided by appropriately funded public and voluntary sectors. And after all, how many cabinet ministers  are out supporting their local good cause or museum after a hard week in Westminster?
But we are still left with the problem of the cuts and George's friend 'Tina' or, 'there is no alternative'. I disagree; as mentioned in my letter, Dave Nick and George should check out the options put forward by False Economy; they'll find plenty there for that Plan B everyone keeps talking about.

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