U.K. “Katrina” Envisioned in Spending Cuts

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December 29, 2010; Source: The Guardian | Prime Minister David Cameron's government is pledging to "massive spending cuts," much like the cuts that the new Republicans elected to the U.S. House would like to see in the federal budget. According to The Guardian, one of the supporters of Cameron's "big society," David Robinson of Community Links says that the two policies will collide with disastrous results for poor communities and for Cameron's social policy initiative.

Cameron’s Big Society concept is very much a call to active citizenship to help solve the nation’s problems. :“The Big Society is…about government helping to build a nation of doers and go-getters, where people step forward not sit back, where people come together to make life better.” But Robinson questions the confluence of that concept with the rapid, willy nilly and deep budget cuts currently underway.

According to Robinson in a letter he wrote to Cameron, "Forcing an unsustainable pace on a barrage of uncoordinated cuts that hit the poorest hardest is not an act of God. Why let it be your Katrina?” Like Katrina's impact on the Gulf Coast, the Prime Minister's proposed budget cuts would cause the collapse of many nonprofits, the exact organizations Cameron wants to be, in Robinson's words, the "bedrock" of the big society concept.

Robinson is not a strident critic of the Prime Minister, referring to his "big hearted vision" of the role of charities and his sincere commitment to the principles enunciated in the big society policy. But he warns that in contrast to budget cuts, the big society program needs an infusion of money in order to work.–Rick Cohen