Baroness Hanham highlighted the key role of the sector during a speech to the Kensington and Chelsea Social Council, who are embracing the Big Society vision.
Kensington and Chelsea Social Council work to support local voluntary and community organisations serving local residents to improve the quality of life in the area. Speaking at their Annual General Meeting Baroness Hanham emphasised the need for collaborative working between government, the voluntary and charity sector and communities in building the Big Society.
Baroness Hanham said:
Charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises can have a powerful role in mobilising community action. They are central to the government’s aspiration for local people to become more involved in their neighbourhoods. Under the government’s proposal for community rights, they will be able to provide the support needed to bring this about - for example, building or managing community halls, or taking council services.
The government have opened a £100 million short-term fund to help charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises to help make the most of opportunities. Overall this new fund means that the Office for Civil Society will be investing around £470 million over the spending review period to directly support charities and voluntary groups.
The people are the boss
In line with the government’s drive to empower local communities to identify and drive positive changes in their local area, Baroness Hanham outlined the priority to rebalance the state to ensure that ‘the people are the Boss’.
Baroness Hanham said:
We believe that the state has intruded too far into people’s lives over recent years and that the time has come to give them more control over their own lives. It is time for a fundamental shift of power away from Westminster.
She emphasises the role that everyone can play in the Big Society and pointed to government initiatives such as the National Citizen Service pilots that seek to engage young people and cultivate a sense of involvement and pride in community.
As part of the governments programme to shift the balance of power to the people the government has been working to cut the red tape and remove restrictive bureaucracy that have acted as barriers to participation.