Public service cuts ‘will create forgotten Britain’

A charity chief has warned of hardening public attitudes to people in poverty, resulting in an increasing divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. He said plans to cut billions from public services risk creating a ‘forgotten Britain’ where the plight of ‘whole swathes of society is getting worse but is invisible to the rest of us’.

Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, made his comments in a speech in London.

Key points

  • There is a growing gap between social need and the public resources available to spend on it. In the short term, the cuts are likely to get worse, not better.
  • The cuts are being implemented in the context of a growing democratic deficit: the government is devolving power to a local level, but greater power is not being accompanied by greater accountability.
  • Our society is one in which the ‘haves’ live increasingly parallel lives to those of the ‘have nots’. Charity leaders talk of public attitudes hardening, with greater suspicion of anyone who relies on publicly funded support. According to one charity CEO, we are becoming a less civilised society.

The result, Bubb says, is that the worsening plight of swaths of our society flies ‘under the national radar’. Support for vulnerable groups – homeless people, victims of domestic violence, those with mental health problems, the elderly and alone, children in broken homes – looks likely to be eroded over the next decade, without the nation they are part of appearing to notice or care.


Source: Speech by Sir Stephen Bubb, 10 May 2012

Links: Speech (shortened version) | Guardian report