Our society's tectonic plates are shifting, and the consequences for the most disadvantaged will be profound.Really? Do tell us more…
Firstly, we face a growing gap between social need in this country and the public resources available to spend on it…. In the long term, our ageing population means the demand on a range of social services is set to outstrip supply.But isn’t this the stated reason for our open borders policy? That we’ll just import the workforce we’ll need?
Surely you aren’t anticipating this no longer happening at some point in the future, Stephen?
Secondly, the cuts are being implemented in the context of a growing democratic deficit. The government is devolving power to a local level, but greater power is not being accompanied by greater accountability. Local media is weak, only a third of us vote in local elections, and quangos such as the Audit Commission that once interrogated local decisions have been pared back or abolished.If ‘only a third of us vote’, doesn’t that rather imply that the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ is down to us to rectify?
Thirdly, our society is one in which the "haves" live increasingly parallel lives to those of the "have nots". The cabinet stands accused of being divorced from normal people, but the truth is that the fractures run deeper. Too many businesses are cut off from the hard reality in their own backyards.Hmmmm. What of the salaries of the CEOs of the big charities, then? Does that money not insulate them too?
And across the board, charity leaders talk of public attitudes hardening, with greater suspicion of anyone who relies on public-funded support, be they disabled, mentally ill or unlucky enough to be raised as a child in a "feckless" family. As one charity CEO put it, we are becoming a less civilised society.No, people are still happy to see those in genuine need helped; they are just increasingly aware that, as the Devil points out with this timely Mencken quote, the definition of ‘genuine need’ has been stretched so far it’s at breaking point. And so are they.
The homeless, victims of domestic violence, those with mental health problems, the elderly and alone, children in broken homes – the support for these people looks likely to be eroded over the next decade, without the nation they are part of appearing to notice or care.Oh, we do care. We really do. We’ve been pointing out that the public sector largesse can’t last forever, that we cannot keep doling out public money into ever-open hands forever. Something has to give.
We have to stop doling out money and not fixing the problem, even if that means the flow of ‘work’ to charities dries up…
We must also plug the scrutiny deficit. The government's promised army of "armchair auditors" has not come to pass. Charities could fulfil the role given the right support – for instance, if we had better access to public-sector information.You’ve got the same access everyone else has – in fact, you’ve got more. You’ve usually got an army of backroom staff at your plush HQ to submit FOIA applications for you! And that’s all you deserve to have.
If you want to be in the public sector, be in the public sector. Don’t expect to benefit from being a charity while taking on the duties and responsibilities of being a public sector mouthpiece.