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Big Society

February 2014

Red tape and regulation are holding back the much-touted ‘Big Society’, a new report has suggested.

The report, called Something’s got to give: the state of Britain’s voluntary sector, issued by think-tank Centre for Social Justice, claims that while charities and church volunteer organisations continue to deliver a service to help others, they are being restricted by regulations and the recession.

Government guidelines, intended to protect workers’ rights, are inadvertently deterring small charities from competing for government contracts when services are put out for competitive tender. Such rights include pension provision under auto-enrolment plans and strict equal opportunities rules.

The report said, ‘This means the government is being held back in its drive to ensure a greater variety of providers of public services and to encourage new ideas and approaches in their delivery’.

The report, whose working group was chaired by Danny Kruger, chief executive of crime prevention charity Only Connect, said charities cannot afford to take on pension liabilities and often do not always want to take on staff who might not share their ethos and approach.

In addition, Britain’s austerity measures has caused financial problems. ‘At a time in which they are badly needed, many grassroots, community-based initiatives feel that their survival is under threat. State funding to the sector has had to tighten and charitable giving remains low. Meanwhile, demand for services has continued to grow’.