A ‘new culture’ of giving – but what dignity in receiving?

We learn today (29 December 2010) that cash machines are to be one of the delivery points for the Government’s ‘new culture of giving‘.  Apparently 8% of the UK population currently ‘gives’ 47% of the cash (wouldn’t it be good if 100% of those who should, paid their taxes…?); and the Nudge Unit at No. 10 thinks cash machine giving will increase charitable donations as a consequence of the ensuing new-style mechanism.

Well, maybe it will and maybe it won’t.  But my real fear is that in the Big Society which the Government seeks to establish, the ‘culture of receiving’ of charitable donations (oh dear, how to rename this?) will also shift, to ensure that even more of those eligible under current arrangements for state support, will not now seek it.

So perhaps only that minority with little sense of self-worth will in general want to be ‘given’ what has been donated – if indeed the funds have not already been allocated elsewhere by the munificent donors, to more prestigious and visible causes than just boring poor people.

To use the terminology of Victorians (who would doubtless have embraced with enthusiasm the ideas now coming from No.10), the ‘deserving poor’ will surely squirm at the prospect of charitable giving for even sometimes basic needs.  

Could this is the big idea behind the Big Society?   I guess few will want to queue, if indeed they are able, for soup kitchens.  Poverty will return to being a matter of lost pride and public shame.

The old phrase was to go ‘cap in hand’; there was no entitlement, only supplication.  And no dignity.

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