Housing could hold the key to Big Society comms challenge

I’ve blogged before about suggestions that the Big Society is failing to cut through public confusion and apathy. Surveys have revealed that most people do not understand it, leaving those responsible for delivering the vision with a major challenge.

So it’s with interest that I started reading The report of the Commission on Big Society, published this month, which gets stuck into this issue in the opening paragraphs:

“People are not clear on what the big society is. Our polling found that 78% of adults in the UK believe the Government has failed to give people a clear idea of what the big society is. Our survey suggested that over 30% of voluntary sector CEOs say they are unclear…
“…We believe the Government should articulate a clearer definition of what it is that it is trying to achieve.”

This certainly highlights the issue at hand from a comms point of view. But it surely doesn’t mean the end of the Big Society, as suggested by some. As the report states, the Big Society existed long before it was branded as such: think the Co-operative movement, this country’s long history of volunteering or its 900,000 charities, not-for-profits and third sector organisations for a start. None of these have sprung up since last May, and it’s pretty certain such action will outlive us all too.

The housing sector has a signigicant role to play here in demonstrating what the Big Society is about. Many social housing providers demonstrate their social conscience every day, involving tenants in service delivery, issuing grants to community projects and taking steps to tackle unemployment and boost household incomes through initiatives like finance clinics.

Can housing providers champion the Big Society? The Government could do far worse them have them as advocates.