Last week the Government published its long delayed White Paper on Public Services Reform.
It’s nice to see that The Economist (“Little platoons on a slow march“, 16 July, page 29) chose a similar illustration to accompany its coverage of this as I did in my last posting a month ago on Cameron’s Big Society. (CamBigs)
When local services are cut, my photo (opposite) showed the gully clearing work I had needed to do as a volunteer with my mattock, rake and scythe.
The Economist cartoon (see below) showed a whole line of volunteers with similar equipment and Cameron in his overalls out there in front leading the troop with a sweeper and shovel in hand! Industrial scale voluntarism is a not so secret core ingredient of CamBigs.
As predicted the White Paper doesn’t contain anything very new about the Big Society. There’s an emphasis on localism (parish councils may have more to do), greater choice, diversity, fairness and accountability.
It all sounds very worthy. Some apologists see this as a radical shake up of public services and decentralisation away from Whitehall. But the rub will come with implementation because public service budgets for local councils, the police and elsewhere are being cut to the bone.
Will privatisation really bring the results for CamBigs when there’s no money on offer? And if not, where will all the armies of volunteers come from? I don’t think I’m very typical, nor my friend Peter who helped me!