The Government has today published its Civil Society Strategy – its first in fifteen years – in which it vows to bring together businesses, charities and the public sector with a number of reforms.
Unveiled by Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, the new strategy places communities at the centre of decision-making and focuses on five key foundations of social value: people, places and the public, private and social sectors.
Key announcements include
- Unlocking £20 million from inactive charitable trusts (those which spend less than 30% of their annual income) to support community organisations over the next two years. The work will be carried out in conjunction with the Charity Commission and UK Community Foundations.
- Launching an ‘Innovation in Democracy’ pilot scheme in six regions across the country to trial creative ways for people to take a more direct role in decisions that affect their local area.
- Establishing an independent organisation that will distribute £90 million from dormant bank accounts to get disadvantaged young people into employment.
- Creating an independent organisation to use £55 million from dormant bank accounts to tackle financial exclusion and the problem of access to affordable credit.
- Supporting charities to make their voices heard on important issues and ensuring charitable trustees reflect the diversity of the society they serve.
The strategy also outlines additional steps, which include creating a major new Leadership Group formed of senior figures from the business, investment and social sectors aimed at putting social and environmental responsibility at the heart of company decisions, using digital technology for good, and improving the use of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 to ensure organisations can generate more social value for communities when spending public money on government contracts.
Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said:
“Civil society is the bedrock of our communities. It is made up of the volunteers, youth workers, charities and innovative businesses that work to improve lives and make areas better for all. Our strategy builds on this spirit of common good to help create a country that works for everyone. I want people, organisations and businesses to feel inspired to get involved and make a difference. Through collaboration, we will unlock the huge potential of this incredible sector, help it grow, support the next generation and create a fairer society.”
Commenting on the strategy launch, Paul Streets OBE, Chief Executive, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales said the Strategy was a good starting point with much in it to be welcomed but that more needed to be done.
“We are pleased the Government has recognised the importance and value of small and local charities and the pressures they are under. But we now need to see Government driving action on the ground – providing the leadership, effort and commitment to deliver real change for charities. They must also make available the resources hard-pressed small and local charities on the frontline need, and ensure their voices are welcomed around the policymaking table no matter how controversial their campaigning angle or how localised their service provision.
“And we would challenge the Government to go further in replacing contracts with grants and releasing more of the billions in dormant assets and committing this to the issues in society that are toughest to fund and hardest to fix, but where charities are best equipped to provide solutions like abuse and exploitation, criminal justice or addiction, and in the most deprived areas.
“This is a good starting point for the future of a stronger Civil Society, but with so many charities and communities under extreme pressure, there is not a moment to lose. We and the small and local charities we support and partner with look forward to working with Government to turn these aspirations into concrete reality.”
Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Institute of Fundraising, also commented, saying:
“There are some positive ambitions set out by the Government, for “the UK to become the global centre for philanthropy practice”, and an aim to make giving as easy and as compelling as possible. These are commendable aspirations, and there are some positive ideas in the strategy to explore collective and place-based giving and a renewed focus on corporate philanthropy.
“However, we believe the strategy could have gone further in clearly setting the government’s role in promoting philanthropy and giving across all government departments and embedding an ambition to raise, celebrate, and promote charitable giving more widely.
“The new strategy states that it is the start of a conversation, not the final word, and we will need continual engagement and dialogue with Government and partners in the sector to drive meaningful change and we look forward to working with DCMS to build on its plans.”
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