Liverpool City Council quits big society vanguard

It says funding cuts and job losses that will 'cut the lifeline' to voluntary groups

Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council
Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council

Liverpool City Council, one of four big society vanguard areas, has pulled out of the initiative in protest at government funding cuts.

Joe Anderson, the Labour leader of Liverpool City Council, wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday to inform him that government decisions had "seriously undermined" the ability of Liverpool’s voluntary organisations to improve the quality of residents’ lives.

Anderson wrote that the city had lost more than £100m of Area Based Grants, aimed at tackling deprivation, which had put some charities at risk of closure.

He also criticised the "extremely poor local government settlement", which left the council seeking savings of £141m over the next two years and poised to axe 1,500 jobs. A further 300 to 500 job losses are expected in the voluntary sector as a result, the council has predicted.

Anderson wrote to Cameron:"How can the city council support the big society and its aim to help communities do more for themselves when we will have to cut the lifeline to hundreds of these vital and worthwhile groups?"

He said that the government had promised to work with the council to remove problems preventing the delivery of its big society programme, but its failure to deliver a single change had "severely hampered" many parts of the programme.

Alan Lewis, chief executive of Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services, said: "I quite understand the council’s reasons for pulling out, but I think the issue around the concept of the big society is bigger than simply public sector cuts."

He said that Liverpool’s withdrawal from the scheme "won’t make an iota of difference" because the city did not receive any funding for being a vanguard.

Cameron launched the big society vanguard areas in Liverpool in July. The other areas are Eden Valley in Cumbria, Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire and the London borough of Sutton.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’said: "We are looking into what the particular issues are and whether there were particular barriers and problems in that particular project, and seeing if there is anything we can do to unlock that.

"What we are trying to do here is something new and slightly different to what has been done in the past. The purpose of putting in place these first projects was to see what would work."

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