Big society idea 'divides the Cabinet and is loathed by the public'

Big Society Network co-founder Paul Twivy tells NCVO conference that people struggle to understand the concept

Paul Twivy
Paul Twivy

Paul Twivy, the founder of the Big Society Network and an adviser to the government on its big society agenda, has admitted that the big society concept is "divisive within the Cabinet" and "increasingly loathed by the public".

Speaking at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations conference Campaigning in a Changing Environment in London yesterday, Twivy made it clear he considered the fundamental ideas of the big society to be sound, but said many people struggled to understand them.

"The big society is a raw ideology promoted by the Prime Minister," said Twivy. "It is divisive even within the Cabinet, and it is increasingly loathed by the public.

"The problem with the big society is that we’ve had huge ideologies come and go before."

Twivy told delegates that the Big Society Network did not receive government funds. "Contrary to stereotypes, we don’t get a penny from the government," he said.

He said the network was about encouraging people to take action, start their own groups and take up more of their rights as citizens.

"There is a record amount of legislation going through that gives citizens rights," he said. "We should make the most of it."

Twivy stood down as chief executive of the Big Society Network in October last year, but he still runs the organisation’s Your Square Mile project, set up to encourage people to get involved in community projects in their local areas.

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