Big society: Hammersmith then and Tories now

From April 2007, we covered Tory Hammersmith and Fulham council as it started to dismantle Hammersmith’s voluntary sector.

Hammersmith’s voluntary sector funding cuts were barbarous.

Hammersmith & Fulman funding cuts demo

Hammersmith funding cuts demo

The council began with an in-year cut from £2.3m in the first half of the year to £1.9m in the second. A 26% cut was planned for 2008 to 2009. Organisations that served people who were unlikely to vote Tory, and/or presented a threat to Conservatism were at the top of the council’s blacklist. This was long before the recession and deficit ‘justified’ nuclear-grade cuts. Hammersmith’s was an ideological raid.


Over the next little while, yours truly and a couple of other journalists will be using real-life histories like the one below to compare Tory pre-deficit public services rhetoric with their current public services rhetoric. Our aim is to show you exactly what Big Society means to millennium-era Tories. The deficit has nothing to do with it.

Here’s a piece to be going on with (Big Society rating of f-all at the end):

April 2007: It was purely by chance that the Hammersmith Law Centre discovered that Hammersmith and Fulham council was about to cut the centre’s funding by 60%.

Centre lawyer Tony Pullen happened upon the report that recommended the cut when he was thumbing absentmindedly through a council agenda that had arrived in the centre’s mail. The report was called ‘Voluntary Sector Funding, 2007 to 2009’ and proposed that the law centre’s annual £261,000 grant be reduced to £159,000.

‘We hadn’t had any warning. We hadn’t heard anything from the council,’ Pullen says. ‘I don’t know how we would have found out if I hadn’t seen that report.’

It wouldn’t have been long before the cheques started to bounce. The report recommended giving voluntary groups that were due to lose funding just six months to organise ‘strategies’ and ‘contingencies’ before cutting them loose. Continue reading