Brits baffled by ‘Big Society’

January 31, 2011, 10:56 PM GMT+0

The majority of Brits don’t understand what David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ means and just as many think the concept ‘probably will not work’, despite significant support for the principle ideas behind it, our poll has found.

  • 63% think that they don’t understand what is meant by the ‘Big Society’

  • Compared to 28% who did feel they knew what the concept meant
  • 68% think that the Big Society will probably not work
  • And only 11% think it is a practical idea
  • 20% think the Big Society is a ‘real vision’ of how the Government can cut costs
  • But far more, 59%, say that it is ‘mostly hot air’ and a ‘cover’ for Government cuts

However, despite many people being sceptical about the feasibility of the 'Big Society' idea, there was still significant support for the principles behind it.

  • 46% agreed with the principles behind the Big Society, such as diverting power away from government to local communities, charities and volunteer groups
  • Whereas 31% didn’t support the principle

    Predictably, opinion about whether the Big Society is a good idea was split along party lines
  • 77% of Tory supporters thought the Big Society was a good initiative while only 8% disagreed
  • 28% of the people who intended to vote Labour agreed with the Big Society in principle but 54% were against the concept

‘Smokescreen’ for cuts?

The 'Big Society' is a Conservative party initiative intended to move power away from the Government and into the hands of local people and communities. It aims to encourage members of the public to take a proactive role in their local charities and voluntary groups so these organisations can take a greater hand in the running of public services.

However, the idea has come under criticism from the opposition, with Labour party leader Ed Miliband saying that the 'Big Society' is a smokescreen for public services cuts, involving nothing more than, ‘dressing up the withdrawal of support with the language of reinvigorating civic society’.

It seems public opinion on the issue is decidedly mixed.

See the suvrey details and full results here