Groups quiz ‘Big Society’ Minister

Apex, Bury St Edmunds.'Nick Hurd minister for civil society to talk to meeting called by david Ruffley on effects on charities by cutbacks and Government's Big Society. ''Pictured;
Apex, Bury St Edmunds.'Nick Hurd minister for civil society to talk to meeting called by david Ruffley on effects on charities by cutbacks and Government's Big Society. ''Pictured;

AFTER much uncertainty about how the Big Society would affect them, the ‘cream of Suffolk’s voluntary sector’ quizzed the man responsible for turning the concept into a reality.

In a closed meeting held at The Apex last Thursday, the Minister for Civil Society, MP Nicholas Hurd, said he wanted charity and voluntary organisations to get involved in local decision-making and in delivering public services.

He was confronted by concerns over cancelled grants, Suffolk County Council’s attempt to divest services and support for vulnerable people, but made assurances about getting rid of red tape, providing transitional grants and investing in infrastructure to improve resources.

“We’ve got a window of opportunity to drive this culture change,” he said, championing grant programme Community First and the Big Society Bank.

Jonathan Moore, Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations’ chief executive, was among the audience.

He said: “The concept of the Big Society is you’ve got to do it for yourself and it’s in your own interest to look to your neighbours to invest in your future. The problem is the funding cuts have happened at the same time – if we don’t have as much money as we had before but still want to do the same things then we have to be part of the change.”