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To Empower and Invest - Government Releases Civil Society Strategy



The Government recently published its long-awaited Civil Society Strategy.

Written to show and inform Government’s relationship with Civil Society for the next decade, here are some of the key things you may want to know.

What does the strategy say?

For quite some time, whether by circumstance or otherwise, the opportunity for the Voluntary and Charity Sector to collaborate with various Government departments has almost always been missing.

In saying that, it is inspirational to find that the Strategy’s intention – the setting out of a long-term vision for the Government’s work with community enterprise; charities and similar organisations – finally seems to show favour of the Sector.

The Strategy also has an important theme; it recognises the essential role that the Charity Sector has had in the past, and the import role it continues to have, in dealing with some of today’s greatest challenges, and there is a need to make sure it is involved in developing new solutions; this is a sentiment which seems to run throughout the whole of the strategy.

Within the 120 pages of the Strategy there are also points of encouragement for charities to speak in public debate, and not be deterred from playing a part in shaping policy and speaking up on behalf of those they support.

Key Content

The Strategy aims to create thriving communities. It goes on to suggest the Government intends to do this by reinforcing the 5 Foundations of Social Value:

  • PEOPLE – Intended to empower people, or give them a sense of control, over their future and their community; supporting them in taking action on issues that matter to them.
  • PLACES – Intended to create places where local communities have the opportunity to be in control and be responsible for areas where they live. As well as improving existing opportunities, like community rights.
  • CHARITIES & SOCIAL ENTERPRISE– Intended to focus making sure charities and social enterprises are confident about their right to speak up, and have a stronger role in shaping policy: This should also include renewed commitment to The Compact.
  • THE PRIVATE SECTOR– Intended to build on enterprise and support for responsible businesses, or business groups who put social and environmental responsibility ‘front and centre’ of what they do: An example of this would be the Inclusive Economy Partnership, or possibly the Financial Inclusion Programme from Big Lottery.
  • THE PUBLIC SECTOR - The Revision of ‘the Grant’: Intended to make sure collaborative commissioning is realised, so local groups, enterprise and similar organisations get more involved to create and deliver priority public services needed in their area: And there are parts in the Strategy suggesting grant-making will now invite small and local charities .

The Strategy was presented as a companion to the Government’s Industrial Strategy. This action would suggest that the Social Sector is seen to be as important as Industry. But, at the time of writing, there is very little to suggest any real funding dedicated to supporting Civil Society, and so there’s a risk that the Strategy is just supportive wording which ultimately recognises a valuable and meaningful sector.

But the sentiment from organisations such as NCVO is that it is a good first step, the start of a programme of work that aims to inform policy across all departments, with a look to build a strong relationship between Government and Civil Society.

For more information, or to read the Civil Society Strategy in full, visit the Government website.



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