Giving and taking away

A JOB lost, in any case, is a tragedy for the individual involved and their family. When the work of that person is based on providing help to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, however, its effects can be felt far more widely. So the threat posed to more than 26,000 jobs in the voluntary sector in Yorkshire has the potential to be calamitous.

The ramifications of local authority cuts for charities and community organisations could be immense. These organisations provide vital support to people on the fringes of society, from the sick and the elderly to those living in poverty or who cannot look after themselves. An army of volunteers plays a huge part but there remains a need for dedicated professionals.

Tackling problems such as drug addiction, or supporting victims of crime, cannot be done by amateurs alone.

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All of these types of work have long been a manifestation of the British spirit of altruism, well before David Cameron dreamt up the Big Society in the run-up to the General Election.

It would be a grim irony if the coalition's cuts shattered the sort of community engagement which the Conservatives have so recently and so wholeheartedly embraced.

Of course, painful cuts have to be made after the excess of Labour's years in government, but the withdrawal of charities' ability to help the weak and the needy, as feared by Alison Haskins, the deputy director of the Yorkshire and Humber Forum, would undermine the fabric of society, particularly in deprived areas such as Hull, Bradford, Doncaster and North East Lincolnshire.

This is why, at Christmas, the Yorkshire Post is running its Communities in Need appeal in aid of small-scale charities and grassroots organisations around the region. Voluntary organisations in this part of the country are particularly dependent on funding from the public purse and, in the long-run, it would cost far more for the state to take on many of their functions.

The coalition must give local authorities the freedom to spend a little because it would save the taxpayer a lot more. The impact of any job lost is grim but the consequences of a widespread cull of posts in Yorkshire's voluntary sector are unthinkable.