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By Ray Fleming

The need for a Minister of Unintended Consequences in Britain's Lib-Con coalition government becomes more evident week-by-week. Such an appointment would ensure that any major new departmental proposal for economies or new initiatives would first have to be examined to ensure that its unavoidable consequences would not in the end prove to be more costly than, or damaging to, the service it is designed to replace.

Although Mr Cameron's Big Society project is still fuzzy round the edges there is one thing about it that is known for certain -- it will encourage charities and voluntary citizen groups to undertake social work of many different kinds which at the moment is handled at public cost by local authorities. But yesterday evidence became available that cuts to support funding of charities by local authorities have already forced at least 2'000 to close existing services and dismiss staff. Most of these charities are working with children and young people, the elderly and disabled. The survey containing this information did not include the effect of cuts in many large cities such as London-Westminser, Leeds and Manchester. Many of the charities concerned are long-established and widely experienced. Once their accumulated knowledge is lost it will be very difficult to replace it with new organisations brought into existence under new proposals. What is happening does just not make sense.