The Prime Minister defended his flagship policy in a speech to social entrepreneurs in London, after weeks of criticism from volunteering groups, charities and politicians.Mr Cameron rejected criticism that the concept was “too vague” and a “cover for cuts”, insisting it was central to the “social recovery” the country needed.He said: “This is my absolute passion.”I think it’s a different way of governing, a different way of going about trying to change our country for the better, and it’s going to get every bit of my passion and attention over the five years of this Government.”Mr Cameron described the Government’s deficit-reduction programme as only his “duty”.He went on: “What is my mission, what is it I am really passionate about? It is actually social recovery as well as economic recovery, and I think we need social recovery because as I’ve said lots of times in the past, there are too many parts of our society that are broken.”Whether it’s broken families or whether it’s some communities breaking down or whether it’s the level of crime, the level of gang membership, whether it’s problems of people stuck on welfare unable to work, whether it’s the sense that some of our public services don’t work for us, we do need a social recovery to mend the broken society and to me that is what the Big Society is all about.”He said people needed to “take more responsibility” and “act more responsibly”.The Government’s response to any problem was only ever “half the answer”, he said.The passionate language means Mr Cameron has personally invested in the success of the Big Society.The danger is that Conservatives could blame him for not focusing on a more traditional Tory message, such as tax cuts or Europe.The Government will bolster the Big Society scheme with a series of new initiatives, including a £100m transition fund to help charities and social enterprises bid for new government contracts to provide services.Mr Cameron took on Labour critics who claim the initiative is a figleaf for spending cuts.
He attacked “years and years of big government” taking away “more and more things that people should and could be doing for themselves.”The Prime Minister said: “Our society is broken and we need to fix it – and the Big Society will help us do that.”I think our broken society all comes back to one word – responsibility. Too many people have stopped taking responsibility for their lives and the people around them.”But commenting after the Big Society relaunch, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “It’s the scale and pace of Mr Cameron’s cuts that is driving local libraries to shut, children’s centres are under threat, citizens advice bureau are closing down.”And it’s not just me saying it.”It’s Liberal Democrat leaders around the country who are saying ‘you are going so far and so fast, we’ve got no time to adapt, we’re going to undermine the big society that you claim to support’.”Former prime minister Tony Blair, asked about the Big Society, told Sky News: “We will wait and see what it actually means.”TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The most worrying thing about the Big Society is that Prime Minister truly believes that policies of slash, burn and sack will make all our lives better, and not just for those for whom he is planning tax cuts.
“The logic of this is that his ideal society is Somalia where the state barely exists, and his hell the Scandinavian societies that the rest of us admire for combining quality services, equality and dynamic economies.”The move comes amid growing criticism of Mr Cameron’s Big Society plans.Former Conservative Cabinet minister David Mellor called the initiative a “lead balloon”.The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said investment in public services was needed if the Big Society was to flourish.And Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the outgoing head of Britain’s largest volunteering charity, Community Service Volunteers, warned Government cuts were in danger of “destroying” the country’s volunteer army – Skynews