Why is cutting funding to the VCS thought to be an “easy option”?

I’ve been puzzling over something David Cameron has said on a few occasions (including at Prime Minister’s Questions):

When it comes to looking at and trimming your budgets, don’t do the easy thing, which is to cut money to the voluntary bodies and organisations working in our communities.

Why would Cameron think that cutting money to the voluntary and community sector is the “easy thing”? I can think of 6 reasons why he may think that’s the case (it goes without saying I don’t agree with the points below):

  1. There is a perception that the work done in the VCS is not as vital as what others do
  2. The sector is less well organised than other sectors and so can’t defend itself
  3. The arrangements between the sector and local councils / commissioners aren’t as solid as they are with other non-public providers
  4. There isn’t generally the same quality of individuals in the VCS as there is elsewhere
  5. The sector is more dependent on commissioners than non-VCS providers, meaning it has to bend over backwards to make commissioners happy
  6. The attitude of the VCS means they’d be willing to do the same or more for less.

All of these reasons would be wrong, of course. But it’s an interesting thought experiment as to why the Prime Minister thinks what he does.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

2 thoughts on “Why is cutting funding to the VCS thought to be an “easy option”?”

  1. 7. It’s a special case of the general rule that it is easier to cut things at arms length than closer to home.
    8. It’s cheaper to cut grants than direct expenditure because it’s easier to avoid the consequential transition costs.
    I don’t think that the comment as quoted indicates any assumption of lower value in the VCS – indeed, the contrary is implied since the stricture is not to cut there. I would read it more as a (generally correct) assessment that if feels easier in process terms to make cuts that way (from the perspective of the grant giver, obviously).

  2. Thanks for your comments, Stefan – very fair points and ones that I hadn’t given enough thought to.
    I think it’s that word “easy” which raised the emotional response in me. I’m sure there are equivalent quotes from the Prime Minister (and others) about making cuts of private sector suppliers or management consultants, which I doubt are described as “easy”.
    I’ll maintain, therefore, that there’s more meaning to “easy” as Cameron means it than simply the process of it.

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