One in three British adults has not heard of the 'Big Society'

More than one in three British adults (37%) has not heard of the Government's proposal for a 'Big Society'.

'Big Society': David Cameron's vision
'Big Society': David Cameron's vision

According to new research from YouGov’s public sector research team, more than half (53%) have no or very little knowledge of the proposals.

The research has been unveiled as Prime Minister David Cameron today gave a speech in Liverpool about the Big Society, which he dubbed his 'great passion'.

In today's speech, Cameron explained his view that groups should be able to run post offices, libraries, transport services and shape housing projects. He also announced plans to use dormant bank accounts to fund projects.

Cameron announced community projects would be established in four parts of the UK - Liverpool; Eden Valley, Cumbria; Windsor and Maidenhead and the London borough of Sutton.

Difficult to convey

Commenting on the research findings, YouGov head of public sector research Dr Michael Wagstaff said: ‘The Big Society idea proved difficult to get across on the doorstep during the election. The survey shows that there is still some way to go before the majority understand what it actually is.’

Fleishman-Hillard head of public affairs Nick Williams concurred and added: ‘Launching the Big Society on an unsuspecting public during the general election campaign completely failed. To do this successfully again he will have to keep repeating a simple message again and again over a considerable period of time in order for it to seep into the public consciousness.

‘Cameron needs this Big Society to be a success since he needs to give the public something more than constant government cuts. Expect to hear a lot more about the Big Society over the coming months.’

Key element

Big Society was a key element of David Cameron’s manifesto in the run up to the general election, highlighting his vision of community work and social enterprise.

The scheme was officially launched on 18 May by the Prime Minister, encouraging people to become involved in their local communities and public services.

Weber Shandwick chairman, corporate communications and public affairs Jon McLeod was sceptical about the scheme. ‘It’s a big idea, with a silly name. The shame is, we need to get real about the Big Society, because the Welfare State is being dismantled before our eyes and we are all going to need something to replace it. Cameron is talking about communities where participation and active citizens are the norm.

‘It is very tricky to engage the public on this because those who volunteer a lot can't give much more and are likely to be offended, and those who aren't interested are unlikely to get hooked on the Tory leader's excitable speech-making. I would shut up about the Big Society, stop using the term and provide more practical examples, pilots and support for those areas where a more citizen-led society is emerging.’

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