Nick Hurd says the sector cannot be immune from cuts

Minister for Civil Society admits they are difficult but insists the budget deficit must be addressed

Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd
Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, has told charities it would be irresponsible to argue that they should be immune from public spending cuts.

Speaking at Third Sector's The Big Society in Practice conference in Westminster yesterday, Hurd said he was concerned about the effects that cuts would have on the voluntary sector, but the budget deficit had to be reduced.

Asked by a delegate if he was ashamed that the government was "dismantling the sector brick by brick", he responded: "I'm ashamed that we could contemplate borrowing this much money.

"We are having to manage an incredibly difficult situation. It is not responsible for the sector to say it should be immune from the process of reducing the deficit.

"The big society is about more than traditional volunteering, however valuable and important that is."

Hurd told the conference that he would like to hear their feedback on the £100m Transition Fund, set up to help charities affected by cuts in public spending.

"We set the Transition Fund up so that it would be fast, and the mission for the Big Lottery Fund, which administered it, was to make it quick and easy. If people have found it complicated and difficult, I would genuinely like to know."

Also at the conference, Lord Nat Wei, the government's big society adviser, said the "end of the beginning" of the big society agenda had been reached.

"As the Prime Minister said earlier this week, the big society is here to stay," he said. "We are about to move into the next phase of the big society, in which it shifts away from the government and towards social entrepreneurs."

Wei also said the big society meant voluntary groups should shift their resources away from lobbying central government, which was giving away its powers, and towards encouraging local citizens to take action.

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