David Cameron has admitted that the Government’s spending cuts would hit “important” areas and make him personally “unpopular”.
But he insisted he has a “duty” to tackle the deficit left by Labour and rejected claims that the cuts would destroy his vision of the Big Society.
The Prime Minister urged councils to reduce bureaucracy and pay before taking the axe to funding for charities and community organisations.
Taking questions from social entrepreneurs after a speech in London, Mr Cameron said: “The truth is that everyone is having to make cuts – central government, local government – and it is incredibly difficult.
“It is not possible to make those cuts without cutting some things that are important. That’s the situation we are in as a country.”
Mr Cameron said the Government had no option but to impose cuts and higher taxes, adding: “It will not make us popular. It will make us unpopular. It will make me unpopular. I recognise it is my duty. We’ve got to do this for the good of the country. We’ve been left a mess, we’ve got to clear it up.”
The Prime Minister promised to spend his premiership fighting for the Big Society, which he described as his driving passion in politics. “What is my mission, what is it I am really passionate about? It is actually social recovery as well as economic recovery, and I think we need social recovery because as I’ve said lots of times in the past, there are too many parts of our society that are broken.”
Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, warned that council cuts were hitting charities. He told the Prime Minister: “I have a passion for charities and when I see them cut, the work they do in vulnerable communities cut, that is bad.”
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell said: “David Cameron can try as many relaunches as he likes.
“It doesn’t change the fact that by cutting too far and too fast, and hitting the charities and community organisations that do so much to support volunteering and social action across the country, it’s David Cameron who is undermining what he likes to call the Big Society.”