Big Society doomed unless civil servants change - MPs

 
Whitehall Is this where David Cameron's Big Society dream will die?

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David Cameron's flagship Big Society plan will fail unless there are big changes to the way the civil service works, a group of MPs has warned.

The Public Administration Committee says the PM's hopes of decentralising power will not work without civil service backing.

It adds that ministers have "failed to recognise the scale of reform required" and think change will "just happen".

Mr Cameron wants to shrink the state and hand more control to communities.

But the job of devolving power to voluntary groups and decentralising control will fall to civil servants in Whitehall departments.

And the cross-party group of MPs is concerned they do not have the skills that will be needed.

'Difficult'

With government departments making cuts and offering staff voluntary redundancy, not enough attention has been paid to making sure people with the right skills and experience are kept on, the report says.

The MPs want to see Whitehall departments working together and are calling for a more "innovative and entrepreneurial civil service".

The committee's chairman, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, said that without big changes, the government's flagship policies would be left high and dry.

"There is a culture in the civil service which makes change very difficult," he said.

"Civil service reform is something ministers talk about, but which most civil servants feel does not affect them.

"They keep their heads down until the latest reform has passed over, and then carry on as before.

"With the challenges of cuts and downsizing on top of the reforms, that is simply not an option this time."

The committee calls for the Cabinet Office to take charge of Whitehall reform, saying that without a "comprehensive change programme" there would be "little of the real change which was the watchword of David Cameron's manifesto for government".

 

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 23.

    #21 Avaggdu: Amen to that! It's exactly the same in the local authorities. Most of them could probably cut their budgets overnight by 10% simply by abandoning stupid corporate initiatives and stopping reorganising every depatrtment every two years.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    If the civil service isn't helping push through the Big Society concept, maybe Cameron could cross his fingers and hope that voluntary groups and the private sector could do all the work necessary to set it up.

    No?

    I guess that it doesn't work that way....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    It is frankly insulting to say the civil service is reluctant to change.

    We deal with every "flavour of the month" loony idea imported from the private sector that is enforced on us when all we want to do is do our jobs to the best of our ability.

    Want to cut waste? Just let us get on with our jobs that we already know how to do as efficiently as we can. Cut the management fads, cut management.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    #17 Just what we need - a US Tea Party manual...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 19.

    Big society !! even bigger Con !! We will give you the sack in the hope you will work for nothing doing the same job...no chance Davy boy

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 18.

    We cannot have "big society" in a free enterprise, psudo democracy!
    Private sector "craporate" businesses being run by 'tick box' puddings!
    Public sector cabbages looking for the answer in multi-million business enterprises....Bring on the collapse so we can start again!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 17.

    Like most I was highly skeptical about the big society until I took some time to really think through how it could work,and several months ago came to the same conclusion that the real roadblock to success was entrenched bureaucracy driven by force of habit and limited ambition and the ability to assess and manage risk. Reading Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnston may help.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 16.

    Looks like Cameron and Co are taking their instructions directly from the Palin Brigade...the Tory Tea Party Tendency is rearing it's substantial and thought free head

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 15.

    Weird how the big society needs the one thing it wants to get rid of to make it work. They call it devolving power to voluntary groups and decentralising control, we call it kicking the legs from under voluntary groups and leavving then to fend for themselves. A fluffy name for a vindictive policy, nothing more.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 14.

    DAVID CAMERON IS SO OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY ITS SCAREY

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 13.

    How many people know what the "Big Society "means?Suspect the " Big Mac" is more meaningful.
    Everyone knows what to expect buying a "Big Mac"..
    Does anyone know what they are getting buying "The Big Society"?
    How can anyone make money selling a product no one needs?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 12.

    BROKEN SOCIETY,SICK SOCIETY AND POOR SOCIETY.That is and always will be the truthe.Camerons I HAVE A DREAM THAT ONE DAY PEOPLE WILL WORK FOR NOTHING AND CARE FOR PEOPLE FOR NOTHING.There will never be a utopia in britain.JOKE OF THE DECADE

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 11.

    I have noticed as time goes by david cameron has talked less about his big society.I think that dream of his went with the riots and big guvernment cuts.There is to much work to cut and down size things before any society structure.Lets be fair i think he didnt realised that how bad his broken, sick society is. His BIG SOCIETY is way off into the future sad but true.We will not see it in our life

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 10.

    Camerons big society will go down the same road as Victorian Values and Back to Basics as espoused by former Tory governments.

    It's nothing more than a smokescreen for public sector cuts & the destruction of it

    Their demise is long overdue..

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 9.

    "As an ex-civil servant, they do not like change, everything remains the same if it is not in the CODE".

    Tripe.

    I'm STILL a civil servant, and we're fine with change - we've been through more in the last thirty years than any other sector you care to name.

    We're NOT OK with change for change sake, half-cocked ideas and nobody at the top listening to the people who KNOW what works.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 8.

    The Big Society will go down as the biggest joke and biggest con of what is hopefully Camoron's very short reign. For anyone who doesn't know, it is a basic privatisation of the councils. The bits the private companies don't want to do will be the domain of 'voluntary' work by us.

    He will be remembered for eternity for the Big Society - funnier than Little Britain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 7.

    All over the country volunteer groups are having their miniscule funding slashed further and further, whilst overpaid managers in local authorities chew up locally valued services like museums to protect their fat unjustifiable salaries. The Big Society is a sham that pretends to promote community participation, but in reality removes all the structures necessary to make it happen. It's a disgrace

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 6.

    So the Big Society political project is dependant on "Whitehall".

    The Big Society is a Big Joke !

    The Big Society is Big Con !

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 5.

    The Government has produced very little clarity on what it actually wants - other than the big ideas which are meaningless unless translatable into avctions. besides if you bash the people who are supposed to be carrying this out as much as the Government has been doing, can you really expect enthusiasm for doing themselves out of their jobs? Any entrepreneurial civil servant will have left by now

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 4.

    With the mess that corporations and bankers have got this world into over the last 30 years I'd say we want MORE government involvement, not less. The problem is unrestrained capitalism, not government!

 

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