Why the ‘big society’ has already failed

Chris Stevenson

The ‘big society’ has already failed. Today’s announcement by David Cameron that the policy is his political ‘mission’ cannot hide the harm done by the total lack of direction up to this point. The sheer depth of the cuts have created wounds that are too deep to heal, however much stronger the rhetoric.

A poignant example is the cuts to the disability living allowance (DLA), a fund created to help disabled people manage their extra needs. In a recent survey by the Disability Alliance nine per cent of respondents said that cuts to the DLA would make “life not worth living”. The response is not only gut-wrenching, but fatally undermines the idea of a cohesive and supportive society.

Nine months of dallying has ensured that the idea of the big society has been shaped not by Cameron himself, but his opposition. The ill-understood concept has been irrevocably linked to the breakdown of the public sector, a way of papering over the cracks of the cuts, rather than a society-defining ideal.

Wanting a stronger and more united society is a sentiment that nobody disagrees with, though the religious-like zeal with which Cameron has pursued the policy sends a shiver down the spine. How can the policy been seen as a shining beacon of light bringing society to a new dawn, when the cuts are leaving so many facing darkness?

This is why the ‘big society’ has failed. There is no way sections of society can ever take it seriously and it will always leave them feeling cold.

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