Tuesday 23 January 2018

Cuts and pain on the menu, warns Cameron

Daniel Bentley in London

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron warned that his government's austerity plans will hit "important" areas and make him personally very "unpopular".

But he insisted he had a "duty" to tackle the deficit left by Labour and rejected claims that the cuts would destroy the pre-election vision he set out for his term in office trumpeted as the 'Big Society'.

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.

"The truth is that everyone is having to make cuts -- central government, local government -- and it is incredibly difficult.

"But I don't believe it is impossible to do your duty at the same time as having a sense of mission and purpose about what would make this country stronger, better and a nicer place to live and make our communities more healthy."

The 'Big Society', Mr Cameron's appeal for people to take more responsibility for their own communities and for running public services, has come under intense criticism from charities, MPs and -- privately -- some ministers. Amid increasing criticism from town halls about the speed and scale of the funding cuts they are having to absorb, Mr Cameron said the government had "no choice about that".

"We are saying to them as vigorously as we can, 'please make sure you cut your own bureaucracy and pay before you cut voluntary bodies and charities'."

The prime minister promised to spend his premiership fighting for the Big Society.

"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."


He acknowledged warnings that cuts would make the Big Society more difficult to achieve.

Mr Cameron said that £200m (€238m) from the banks would be put into a new Big Society bank this week.

The financier Ronald Cohen, who has been a major Labour donor, was unveiled as an adviser on the setting up of the bank. A £100m (€118m) transition fund is also being set up to help charities and social enterprises bid for government contracts. The training of 5,000 community organisers is also to be announced this week.

Irish Independent

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