The policy which may come to define the coalition government has been significantly tarnished in the past 48-hours. A day after the “Big Society tsar” reduced his hours in the unpaid role to earn more money and “have more of a life” Liverpool has quit the flagship pilot project.
The leader of Liverpool City Council has written to David Cameron today to withdraw from the so-called “Vanguard scheme”. This is especially embarrassing as the city was chosen by the Prime Minister to launch the initiative in July:
The government has failed to deliver a single change that we have requested … Liverpool City Council can no longer support the Big Society initiative, as a direct consequence of your funding decisions
With the only Labour borough quitting leaves just three remaining projects: Eden Valley in Cumbria (independent), Windsor and Maidenhead (Tory) and the London Borough of Sutton (Lib Dem). The news comes after the beleaguered policy was linked with a failure by the Conservatives to win a majority in May.
Asked by Scrapbook for comment on the developments, DCLG seemed to disown the project:
The Big Society vanguards are led by local communities and people – not central government.
So why does each vanguard project need to be “supported by a dedicated team of civil servants” from, erm, central government? Wherever a failing programme can be linked in some way to local government it seems the canned response from Whitehall will be as follows:
Nothing to do with us guv’nor!