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Community schemes to kick start Big Society pitch

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Community projects in four parts of the country are to be given help in a bid to kickstart the government’s “Big Society” agenda, David Cameron will announce today.

Each will get an expert organiser and dedicated civil servants to ensure “people power” initiatives get off the ground and inspire a wider change, the Prime Minister will say.

A local buy-out of a rural pub, efforts to recruit volunteers to keep museums open and giving residents more power over council spending are among the initiatives being championed.

Mr Cameron will use a speech in Liverpool - one of the areas to benefit - to hail the potential for “the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power” from the state to individuals.

The other three council areas picked to receive the help with projects are: Eden DC, Windsor and Maidenhead RBC and Sutton LBC.

The PM will also confirm plans to use funds stuck in dormant bank accounts to enable charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to take over the running of public services.

Hundreds of millions of pounds should eventually be available in start-up funding as part of the push - which would see providers paid by results, he is expected to pledge.

Years of top-down government control had turned capable people into “passive recipients of state help”, lively communities into “dull soulless clones” and motivated public sector workers into “disillusioned weary puppets of government targets”, Mr Cameron will say in the speech.

“We have to turn government completely on its head,” he will suggest - so that it helped foster “communities with oomph”, public sector workers with freedom to innovate and “a new culture of voluntarism, philanthropy, social action”.

“These four vanguard communities will be the great training grounds of this change, the first territory on which real and ultra local power is a reality - and the Big Society is built.

“They are all from very different places: rural, suburban, urban. They’re led by different sorts of people: local MPs, councillors, big local leaders outside of politics like Phil Redmond.

“And they’ve got different ideas, from devolving budgets to street-level, to developing local transport services, taking over local assets such as a pub, piloting open-source planning, delivering broadband to local communities, generating their own energy and here, in Liverpool, building a volunteer program so they can keep local museums open for longer.

“But they’ve all got one thing in common: a firm commitment from this government to help them realise their dreams,” he will say.

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