Letter to Nick Hurd MP
Dear Mr Hurd,
In the recent joint press release on the Big Society Agenda (issued by yourself and Francis Maude) you stated the following:
As initial funding, a Conservative government will use the majority of the future annual revenue from the estimated £160m FutureBuilders Loan Book to provide grants to neighbourhood groups, social enterprises and charities in the poorest areas of Britain.
As I understood it Futurebuilders was set up to provide investment to third sector organisations in England, yet you intend to use it to provide grants to organisations operating in the poorest areas of Britain. Are the funds in the Futurebuilders Loan Book available to projects across the UK, or are they only available to English projects?
Also, could you tell me whether the 'national' in your proposed "annual national Big Society Day" relates to the nation of England or the nation of Britain; and could you also tell me whether the National Citizen Service will operate across the UK or in England alone?
More generally, would it be possible for you to use unambiguous words like 'England' or 'UK' when discussing the Big Society so that members of the public such as myself can understand the territorial extent and scope of your pronouncements? Your use of the term 'the country' is confusing because it could mean 'England', 'England and Wales', 'Britain', or the entire 'United Kingdom'; and your use of the word 'Britain' is almost as ambiguous because it could mean 'England, Scotland and Wales' or it could be shorthand for 'United Kingdom'.
Sort it out please!
The writings of people like Simon Lee lead me to believe that Nick Hurd is discussing England, but frankly I'm too weary of this sort of ambiguity to even be bothered to work it out. Is it really too much to ask that it should be immediately obvious and clear about which part of the United Kingdom ministerial missives and Government policy relates to?
David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ agenda, with its commitment to a new culture of voluntarism and philanthropy, public service reform, and community empowerment, applies to England alone. Control over the resources, policies and services affected by the Big Society had already been devolved by New Labour to the Scots’ parliament and the assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland.
In a similar vein, the Coalition’s flagship reforms of public services, namely the cancellation of more than 700 ‘Building Schools for the Future’ projects and the creation of ‘free’ schools, coupled with the devolution of health budgets to GPs, and the scrapping of Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities, also apply to England alone.
Simon Lee, Parliamentary Brief, 01 September 2010