Heart trouble is a chronic condition

From Mr Nicholas Crawford.

Sir, Sir Stephen Bubb, of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisation, criticised the government’s £1bn cuts to the sector asking: “How do you build a Big Society if you are cutting the heart out of it at the same time?” (“Cameron targets ‘social recovery’ as he defends his political mission”, February 15.) His question portrays a fundamental confusion of what the voluntary and charitable sector should really be about.

The past century has witnessed the establishment of the government as the principle financier of charity, transforming many voluntary organisations from community-based products of social entrepreneurship into providers of outsourced state welfare provision.

The Big Society project requires not only the proliferation of the third sector, but also the procurement of funds from society itself, be it from individual philanthropy, corporate giving or small-scale charity.

The progression from state to private funding may have to be implemented gradually, especially given the economic pressures upon potential donors, but if cutting government funding of charities is to cut the heart out of the voluntary sector, it tells us quite clearly that its heart has been long corrupted.

Nicholas Crawford,

The Wilberforce Society,

Gonville & Caius College,

Cambridge, UK

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