Coalition outlines plans for big society programme

By Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector Online, 18 May 2010

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg

David Cameron and Nick Clegg unveil proposals for a Big Society Bank and a national citizen service

Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, have unveiled a new document outlining the coalition government's plans for implementing the ‘big society' programme, which include setting up a Big Society Bank and introducing a national citizen service.

The document, Building the Big Society, says the new bank will be paid for with funds from dormant bank accounts. The bank will provide finance for charities, social enterprises, neighbourhood groups and other non-governmental bodies, the document says.

It also says the government will "take a range of measures to encourage charitable giving and philanthropy" and launch a national Big Society Day.

"We will support the creation and expansion of mutuals, cooperatives, charities and social enterprises, and support these groups to have much greater involvement in the running of public services," it says.

The document says public sector workers will be given the right to form employee-owned cooperatives and bid to take over the services they deliver.

"Today is the start of a deep and serious reform agenda to take power away from politicians and give it to people," said Cameron.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, will be responsible for putting the plans into place. He will be supported by Nat Wei, a founder of Teach First, who was yesterday appointed as the new government adviser on the big society agenda and a member of the House of Lords.

A spokesman for the Office for Civil Society said further details on how the ideas would be implemented would be available in due course. It was not yet clear, he said, whether the Big Society Day would be a bank holiday, how the government would encourage charitable giving or how much money the Big Society Bank would have.

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