Considering a 'Big Society'

March 15, 2012, 2:34 PM GMT+0

73% say 'Big Society' plans won’t work, however 45% say they are a good idea

The government have said since 2010 that a key plank of their policy is to encourage a 'Big Society'. Our polls show that around half of Britons think these plans are a good idea. However, the majority (from both 2011 and 2012) say they don't think it will work

  • In May 2011, around half (45%) of Britons said they thought the government's Big Society plan was a good idea, while 34% said it was a bad idea
  • 73% of 2011 respondents said the plan will probably not work, and 9% said it probably will
  • This year, the same percentage (45%) say it is a good idea, while slightly fewer people (32%) say it is bad idea
  • From the 2012 poll, almost three quarters of the public (73%) said they thought the plan "will probably not work"
  • As few as 1 in 10 (9%) said they think it will work

David Cameron has described the Big Society as "giving more power to local communities and people" by taking more power away from government and allowing voluntary groups and communities to run public services.

Such services include giving more powers to local government, encouraging people to take an active role in their communities and supporting charities and volunteer groups.

Public confusion

Since the launch of the new plans, a large percentage of respondents from both 2011 and again in 2012 say they are unclear on the concept of the 'Big Society', suggesting that confusion over what the 'Big Society' actually means has not reduced over the past 12 months

  • In May 2011, many were unsure about the plan, with 33% saying they did not understand it very well, and 29% not at all
  • 24% of May 2011 respondents said they understood the plan 'fairly well'; 5% said 'very well'
  • In 2012, the majority of Brits (63%) say they do not understand the government's 'Big Society' plans (34% don't understand them very well , 29% said not at all)
  • 32% say they do understand them (29% fairly well, 3% very well)

Critics have said the government's agenda lacks focus leading to confusion over its overall aims and benefits. Mr Cameron has been forced to defend his motives for the plan after a concerted attack from union leaders, with Unison boss Dave Prentis accusing Cameron’s Big Society as a "big cop-out."

"This plan is all about saving money and it will cost even more jobs and lead to more service cuts," said Prentis. "The Government is ­simply washing its hands of providing decent public services and using volunteers as a cut-price alternative."

Mr Cameron has insisted that the government is committed to giving people more control over their lives.

"We know instinctively that the state is often too inhuman, monolithic and clumsy to tackle our deepest social problems," he said. "The best ideas come from the ground up, not the top down."

See the full details and results here