Rt Hon David Cameron MP – the Prime Minister

(For full event – click here)

Prince William was inspiring at the FIFA bid, says PM David Cameron. He shook many hands, tried to persuade people to the very end… “you must never not try to get something because you fear failure.”

“Ever since becoming PM I have wanted to make a speech about the role of business in developing Big Society …

BITC has been the great champion of Big Society. Once again they are leading the charge… the survey demonstrates this.

Cameron names Ed Davey MP Corporate Responsibility Minister.

“If you aren’t on the pitch, you can’t play the game” (very apt football reference from the PM).

“Regaining the sense of shared responsibility” PM David Cameron continues, “shared responsibility” is a core value of the Big Society.

Shared responsibility drives our determination to build a bigger, stronger society. This is the thinking behind the big society. But what does it mean and how do we get there?

The PM outlines three key areas:

  1. Decentralising Power
  2. Public service reform – best providers, best service, transparent information
  3. Social Action – people giving their time and action

On decentralisation: we are changing the planning rules. “We want to give people the right to take over local assets”

On public service reform: anyone can offer to provide them. We want the best to come forward… and for those services to be transparent.

On social action: (we want to) foster a culture of philanthropy, of volunteering, a culture that enhances social capital.

“Community empowerment, public service reform and social action: how dow we take these forward? And what is the role that businesses play?” (PM David Cameron).

“Businesses have some very clear asks of Government so that they can continue to do what they do best (innovate, deliver). Let us cut that needless red tape, cut corporation tax, we will stand up for business. That is our commitment. But we need to be honest with each other”

“Businesses ask for less red tape, lower taxes… we [Government] will stand up for business, but we will also stand up to business.

“However we have to reduce the demand for those (barriers): we need the commitment, creativity and innovation to help us to tackle those problems that face us – such as obesity.

“If business is prepared to do that, government can go further in helping businesses”.

What exactly is the deal? what do we want from business? The PM will not be prescriptive… but our asks of you:

Uphold the law, treat employees fairly…

“If we remain silent in the face of these issues we do an injustice”.

“CSR is much more than businesses avoiding doing harm. It is about contributing to a better society’. (PM David Cameron).

BITC asked for consistency and clarity from and across Government about what Government wants from business.

The commitments published by the PM today in the Every Business Commits initiative “applies to every business of every size. The people in this room are probably doing this already – our challenge is to take it further”.

Every Business Commits – 5 points:

Reduce carbon, improve skills, support your community, improve quality of life and wellbeing, support small and medium-sized enterprises (on small business support :- “pay on time, mentor others, use small/local business).

There are still huge barriers in the way: Government will do everything it can to help whether that is CRB checks, helping previously unemployed people back in to work…

PM: “My challenge to you; is to scale up the good work – lead by BITC. To generate 1000 business connectors in the poorest areas. To ensure that business in those areas that need the most help, can address issues in their communities”.

“Next year is going to be a crucial year for our economy – but also for our society too. Corporate philanthropy: you are a force for good in our economy but also in our society too. You have the power to build that shared future… for a stronger future and a better Britain”.

PM continues; “We are setting up a transition fund for the Big Society. We are also setting up a big society bank to help social enterprises take essential loans. Capital that can be invested…”

Comments from the audience:

ASDA: as a retailer the work we do in 100s of communities is fundamental to how we support neighbourhoods, and frontline groups that tackle social issues locally.

Sainsbury’s: Referring to ‘business connectors’ – the best way we can build on this is to help people become pioneers; and we will work with government and BITC to define this.

PM gets increasingly passionate as he answers Questions…. “Giving [money] isn’t enough… Give talent, people, capacity…”

PM: “30 years ago we asked businesses for money. Then we looked at leveraging their brands. Now – it is all about people. The talent, the capacity. This is the importance of business connectors. Imagine what your top staff could do…

The “Every business commits” initiative from government asks under Support Your Community for encouragement of volunteering and philanthropy, making skills and resources available to neighbourhood groups, local arts organisations and for social action. Promote payroll giving. Help employees to get involved in social action e.g. Taking Citizen University course. Strong emphasis on connecting directly with the community.

From the floor: “at the heart of our communities are schools”

PM closes with: “A big thank you for all that you do. You are the leading light for this incredibly powerful vision. The power of business is not just good for economy – it is good for our society”.

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