The government calls on the public for evidence to inform the new civil society strategy.

After delays and Cabinet reshuffles the Government launched its long-awaited public consultation on the Civil Society Strategy at the end of February. The consultation runs to 22 May 2018.

Designed to be an “open conversation”, the intention of the consultation is to draw on opinions from across society – not just those within the sector – on how the Government can help strengthen the charity sector.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Civil Society, has stressed that the consultation starts with the premise that civil society is “an enormous force for good” and has the ability to engage with communities and individuals that government sometimes cannot.

The consultation will look to build on what is already working well, identifying areas of weakness, and seeking innovative ideas on working across sectors to share skills and expertise. The consultation is clear, however, that the Government’s response and any implementation of a new Civil Society Strategy will need to take account of “financial and legislative pressures”.

The consultation covers four main themes:

  • “Our civil society” looks at how government can further promote the sector and the case for civil society shaping government policy. It also touches on building and maintaining the public’s trust in the sector.
  • “People” looks at the range of ways individuals can be encouraged to engage with the sector, for example, by volunteering and charitable giving.
  • “Partnerships” explores the potential for greater cross-connections between the private and public sectors with civil society, and
  • “Places” focuses on civil society’s role in creating and improving the spaces in which people live and work.

This is an ambitious engagement exercise covering a broad range of topics. It is being supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which will be holding a number of events across the country with the public invited to talk about civil society. There will also be a joined-up approach from the Government in its response to the consultation with the resulting Civil Society Strategy developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

After the consultation closes in May, a full strategy document is expected later this year. We will be submitting our own responses to the consultation and would encourage any other individual or organisation with an interest in civil society to do the same.