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Bookmark and ShareAnna Coote is Head of Social Policy at nef.

The government wants to build a ‘Big Society’ at the same time as a imposing a very big squeeze on spending for public services.  This will not work unless spending is focused more sharply on preventing needs arising or intensifying ,and on supporting individuals and groups so that they can do more to help themselves and each other.

The danger is that the first victims of the squeeze will be the very things that are essential for preventing harm, improving well-being and encouraging self-help and mutual aid.  Examples include healthy and appetising school meals, child care services, open access to swimming and other sports, community meeting places, training and other resources for local groups, ‘social prescribing’ by GPs, out of school activities for young people, programmes to keep older people active and socially connected, more and better green spaces in urban areas, and much more.  Cuts in these areas will only push up demand for services in the longer run.

Read more about nef‘s take on the Big Society; why we think prevantative public services are valuable, especially for children; how welfare can be transformed to meet the economic and climate crises; and how co-production can improve the experience of service users and public servants.

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nef employees blog in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the new economics foundation.