Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The changing relationship between the citizen and the state

Paul Buddery, Matthew Parsfield & Atif Shafique

The enabling state, Big Society, Every Child Matters, according to this report, are examples of the drive towards an altered relationship between the citizen and the state. Since the Named Person scheme grew out of Every Child Matters, it is also part of this same schema of altered relationships, but that is already obvious to many Scottish citizens who find it unacceptable that the state should interfere in the minutiae of everyday family life. It is also recognised that the Named Person, as a single point of contact - if you want it, was always a scurrilous attempt to deceive the public.

What might be less well understood, because it is screened behind a verbal fog in a multitude of different documents, is that the altered relationship between the citizen and the state is about fragmenting and shrinking the welfare state. As Carnegie Trust guru, Sir John Elvidge who masterminded the `enabling state,` has advised: it`s about doing more with less; it`s about building community resilience so that individuals need less.

"What place is there in this dynamic for contributors other than self-organising people on the one hand and the enabling government on the other? And at this point it might be tempting to say that it`s self evident the charitable foundations, charities and the wider voluntary sector must have a role to play."
It is self evident that contributors to an altered relationship between the citizen and the state should involve charities. So thinks Sir John Elvidge, but I don`t think so. What is self evident to many in Scotland is that the role of charities in standing by the Scottish plan and mouthing their words, in order to inflict a Named Person on every child in Scotland worked against children and family rights. The RSA`s view that charities are seen by the public as `honest brokers` is now an overly rosy view.

Returning to the RSA document: 

"It’s wrong to see social support simply as services delivered to the individual, by the state. This characterisation completely cuts out the important relationship an individual has with the community (or communities) of which he is part of. Children are not the children of the state; they are the community’s children; they are part of communities and neighbourhoods… We’ve lost that sense of community."
Guess who the community is.
"The voluntary, community and social sector incorporates the broad subset of institutional public life that is not part of the formal state apparatus. Consisting of charities, volunteers, religious and community institutions and increasingly social enterprises - businesses with a social purpose - the social sector does not encompass the whole of what is meant by `community`, but it does have a role in organising communities and occupies a potentially key position between communities and the state."
`Businesses with a social purpose` -  this is what many of the large charities have become. They speak on behalf of our children, and us - for the business, while staffing the front line with volunteers and hiving off public money into their management coffers.

It`s the new relationship !


  1. And what a lot of data that new relationship requires:

    All the usual subjects - including Carnegie UK...

  2. Ouch ! Well that`s, er ... better not use the words that spring to mind.

    I see the SECTOR RESEARCH FORUM has an event coming up. LET`S COLLABORATE FOR IMPACT, September 2016 at Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.

    "The programme will consist of presentations from brokers, third sector organisations and academics showcasing their collaborative work"... ETC.


    They really are turning `charity` into a DIRTY word.