Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for David Cameron and Steve Hilton’s big society project, the recent publication of the Sunday Times Rich List raises questions about the viability of philanthrocapitalism in the UK. In December, the prime minister, David Willetts, Jeremy Hunt and Francis Maude argued that:
“philanthropy must be at the heart of the big society”
Yet according to research by the Charities Aid Foundation, charitable donations by the top 100 philanthropists in the UK fell by almost a third in one year. In 2009, the figure stood at £2.49bn, but was reduced to £1.67bn by 2010 — an £818m drop.
The news comes after Cameron’s Big Society tsar claimed he “doesn’t have enough time” to perform his voluntary role, Liverpool City Council quit the pilot initiative while one of his official ambassadors for the programme spends his time attacking charities.
If only there were some other way of funding public services.