Social Services Should Not Be Delivered by the State but Charities, Say Conservatives; Candidate Visits Centre for Youngsters

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 21, 2010 | Go to article overview

Social Services Should Not Be Delivered by the State but Charities, Say Conservatives; Candidate Visits Centre for Youngsters


Byline: Martin Shipton

A FRESH row over planned public sector cuts between Labour and the Conservatives was sparked yesterday by a visit to a centre for disadvantaged people.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan was full of praise for the centre in Cardiff run by the charity Llamau, saying she saw it as a perfect example of the Conservatives' flagship policy the Big Society - under which social services are provided not by the state but by organisations in the voluntary sector.

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But Labour claimed such centres, which get the bulk of their funding from the public purse. were exactly those likely to be hit hard by savage spending cuts if the Conservatives won the election. Llamau provides life skill courses and accommodation for homeless young people aged 16 to 25 in a variety of locations across South Wales. Some were formerly in care, some in young offenders' institutions and others were thrown out by their families.

Frances Beecher, the charity's chief executive, said the young people they engaged with were far less likely to re-offend than those who did not receive such support.

After chatting with staff and the young people themselves, Ms Gillan said: "This is about people helping other people in their community. This is just the sort of project we would want to see grown and encouraged.

"We think there's an enormous role for the third sector and for charities of this sort. Look at the good job they're doing - they've got very positive outcomes, they can measure their results.

"It's people like this that are best placed to keep providing those services.

and we must encourage them. It's right up there with what we say about the Big Society - this is the Big Society in action. "This is about government not doing everything, this is about government not knowing best, but actually having people within our community who do know what to do."

When it was pointed out to Ms Gillan that the charity could not survive without Government funding, she said: "It's not the point. That's not the argument on Big Society.

"The argument on Big Society is that politicians don't know best, and central government and the public services don't always deliver the best outcomes. Whereas if you get it down to experts and charities like this, with public funding, they're the best at doing it.

"We want to push down into our communities and let people who are really good at doing it do it and the government do less. It's much better that the funding comes in here and the outcomes are delivered."

Asked whether organisations such as Llamau, which get the bulk of their funding from the public purse, stood to lose out badly from savage public spending cuts, Ms Gillan said: "This is a term that has been used by the politicians who have opposed the fact that David Cameron and the Conservative Party have said that we need to repay debts now.

"Every family knows that if you have maxed out on a credit card, which is what Gordon Brown has done on the credit card of this country, if you put it down on the mantelpiece and don't start paying it off immediately, it gets worse. …

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