With the news that the Green Investment Bank is probably never going to happen, further casting doubt on any claim that the government is somehow eco-friendly, it is interesting to consider the setting up of the ‘Big Society Bank’. The dormant accounts can (but look like they wont) be used as a way to promote progressive sustainable values (such as eco friendly principles – although, the more substantial green investment should still take place).
As Ed Milliband has already stated, the government is using the ‘Big Society Bank’ as a way to cover up for their deep engrained cutting of public services – as the government’s economic policies are resulting in local governments cutting the grants for charities and the voluntary sector so as to deal with the 10s of % cuts they are told to initiate. It is definitely a good idea to use the dormant accounts to set up projects and fund community action – but this is precisely why the progressive left, as Jon Cruddas rightly claimed, need to get involved in the localism debate. We need to debate what type of localism we want to promote, and the dormant accounts are one way to do so.
Eco-friendly credentials are something that could have been promoted by the dormant accounts, and could have been one of many progressive visions furthered through the funding. It could have gone alongside the Green Investment Bank, as a sign that the environment and a progressive sustainable future was being taken seriously. However, initiative after initiative announced and denounced is signifying the government’s anti green outlook.
However, using money from dormant accounts still wouldn’t have accounted for near enough money to allow for proper green investment and promotion of sustainability, as the Green Investment Bank would have been linked to 1bn capital from both private and public asset sales. Instead, the FT report that only around £60million will be accessible for the government to use in the ‘Big Society Bank’ by next April, as to gain access to around the full £400 million will take time.
This is still well short from the £2billion of green investment capital – but the fact the Green Investment Bank is most likely to be shelved and then the government is going to carry on with a scheme to make up for their own doings, without providing better assistance for green sustainability – just defies sensibility.