David Cameron will attempt to breathe new life into his much-criticised Big Society initiative, declaring that it is “my mission in politics” to make it succeed.
In a speech to social entrepreneurs in London, the Prime Minister will say that he is committed to rolling back the “Big Government” years of Labour and giving back people responsibility for their own lives.
“Let me make one thing absolutely clear – I’m not going to back down from what I believe in just because of a few bad headlines,” he is expected to say.
“The Big Society is my mission in politics. It’s what I want us – as a country – to build. Together. And I’m going to fight for it every day, because the Big Society is here to stay.”
The Government is set to bolster the scheme with a series of new initiatives including a £100 million transition fund to help charities and social enterprises bid for new government contracts to provide services.
A Big Society bank – with £200 million in reserves from the high street banks – will provide working capital for the successful applicants to help them get going.
The move comes amid growing criticism of the Government’s attempts to broaden the role of the voluntary sector at a time when public services are under intense pressure.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, became the latest public figure to enter the debate, warning that investment in public services was needed if the Big Society was to flourish.
“I think everybody has got to be concerned,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. “The Big Society, which is right, has got to build capacity and investment has got to go into it.”
He echoed Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the outgoing head of Britain’s largest volunteering charity, Community Service Volunteers, who warned last week that Government cuts were in danger of “destroying” the country’s volunteer army.