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Big Society

Volume 521: debated on Wednesday 19 January 2011

12. What assessment he has made of the effects on the big society initiative of the outcomes of the comprehensive spending review; and if he will make a statement. (34292)

The hon. Gentleman was a distinguished head teacher in Scotland, I believe, and if his question relates to the effects in Scotland, he should of course address it to Scottish Ministers, as we do not have responsibility in that field.

For England, £470 million a year has been allocated to the Office for Civil Society, a considerable amount in light of the spending review. We have also allocated £100 million to the transition fund, and as I have mentioned repeatedly, there are huge new opportunities for voluntary bodies.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Can he reassure me that ultimate responsibility for providing a safety net for the most vulnerable people in society still rests with the state?

Of course responsibility for ensuring that people are cured, taught and protected from criminals rests with the Government and the state. The question is how that responsibility is best fulfilled. In our view, there are some areas in which things should be done by innovative and enterprising voluntary and community groups, rather than being delivered directly by public authorities.