A New Agenda for Social Welfare?
Edited by Armine Ishkanian and Simon Szreter
Chapter 9: Funding and the Big Society
Cathy Pharoah Within new conservative ideology, the responsibility for welfare will increasingly shift from the state towards the Big Society concept in which the roles of the public, voluntary and private sectors in both financing and delivering welfare are rebalanced. The Coalition’s vision for financing the role of ‘social ventures’ in welfare provision, that is of community organisations, charities, social enterprises and social firms, is set out in its social investment strategy (HM Government, 2011). This refers to the three ‘pillars’ of finance for social ventures – social investment, philanthropy and state funding. Uncertainties around the proposed reshaping of the funding base, however, have seen the role of the Big Society in relation to finance increasingly contested. Widely divided perceptions have arisen around issues such as whether the Big Society is on the supply or demand side of the finance market, or both. Issues of the sufficiency and timeliness of financial resources in a period of change have also surfaced as both crucial and contested. This chapter outlines the emerging debates, describes and analyses the models for financing social ventures in the Big Society context, and identifies some of the issues and implications that arise for funding social welfare through the Big Society approach. THE EMERGING DEBATES ON FUNDING Timing has been critical to the shape of the debate about financial issues in relation to the Big Society. With a four-year programme of government spending reduction of around 30 per cent under way, and many voluntary organisations experiencing grants cuts and...
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