Sticking the boot into charity

Modern British Studies Birmingham

Matthew Hilton Matthew Hilton

Charities are under assault. While many of us thought the Big Society was incoherent and full of empty rhetoric, in reality it ushered in one of the most sustained attacks on charities since legislation regulating their actions was first introduced in 1601.

First, the assault was verbal. The government’s notion of charity was small-scale, local and service oriented. Its ‘Big Society tsar’, Lord Wei, dismissed the big charities as ‘bureaucratic and unresponsive’ to citizens. Then came the cuts. By 2012/3, charities had experienced a fall in their income from government of £1.9 billion from its peak in 2009/10. The government’s own preferred smaller charities here were hardest hit, as local authorities could no longer contract them to provide essential services. Ironically, those charities operating in Birmingham’s Balsall Heath, the inspiration for the Big Society, shared the pain of these cutbacks.

Put on the defensive and struggling to…

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