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April 13, 2010

Tories pledge to build Big Society

David Cameron has pledged to fund an army of 5,000 professional, full time community organisers if the Tories win the general election.  That’s 500 for Scotland – difficult to envisage how that would be afforded.  But the plan is not altogether  fanciful – it’s  based on the successful community-organising movement established by Saul Alinsky in the United States.  It’s where President Obama cut his teeth

Conservative Party press release Wednesday, March 31 2010

Conservatives today set out policies to help mend Britain’s Broken Society, including the creation of a new “neighbourhood army” of 5,000 professional community organisers that would give communities the help they need to work together and tackle their problems.

Conservatives seek to build a ‘Big Society’ based on responsibility and respect, in stark contrast with Labour’s Big Government built on paternalism and waste.

Speaking at a conference on the Big Society today, David Cameron and eleven members of the Shadow Cabinet set out how a Conservative government would give power to neighbourhood groups and boost social action.

“It is a guiding philosophy”, Cameron said, “a society where the leading force for progress is social responsibility, not state control”.

“It includes a whole set of unifying approaches – breaking state monopolies, allowing charities, social enterprises and companies to provide public services, devolving power down to neighbourhoods, making government more accountable”.

“And it’s the thread that runs consistently through our whole policy programme – our plans to reform public services, mend our broken society, and rebuild trust in politics.”

The new policies announced as part of the Big Society plan include:

• Neighbourhood army” of 5,000 full-time, professional community organisers who will be trained with the skills they need to identify local community leaders, bring communities together, help people start their own neighbourhood groups, and give communities the help they need to take control and tackle their problems. This plan is directly based on the successful community organising movement established by Saul Alinsky in the United States and has successfully trained generations of community organisers, including President Obama.
• A Big Society Bank, funded from unclaimed bank assets, which will leverage private sector investment to provide hundreds of millions of pounds of new finance for neighbourhood groups, charities, social enterprises and other non-governmental bodies.
• Neighbourhood grants for the UK’s poorest areas to encourage people to come together to form neighbourhood groups and support social enterprises and charities in these poorest areas.
• Transforming the civil service into a ‘civic service’ by making regular community service a key element in civil servant staff appraisals.
• Launching an annual national ‘Big Society Day’ to celebrate the work of neighbourhood groups and encourage more people to take part in social action projects.
• Providing new funding to support the next generation of social entrepreneurs, and helping successful social enterprises to expand and succeed.