In response to the UK Government’s Civil Society Strategy Consultation, we’ve outlined our thoughts on what the Government could do to support a stronger civil society.
The UK Government strategy for Civil Society comes at a critical time. Businesses, government, communities, people and charities are all reaching for a new vision for a post Brexit Britain; a new way of creating wealth that works for everyone. Wealth that is categorised in its broadest sense; not just how much we produce or consume, but how well we are, how we relate to and understand each other, whether we feel secure in our home and job, or whether we feel like we have a stake in our economy, community and democracy.
Fundamentally, this is a shared endeavour, a shared responsibility. And our partnerships, policies and practice need to now reflect that shared responsibility, through reimagining the relationships that bind us – and supporting entities and networks (whatever their shape or kind) that manifest these multiple forms of wealth.
It is in this context that we hugely welcome the Government’s interpretation of civil society as ‘those outside of the public sector who share the mission of building a strong society and improving lives’, regardless of traditional sector boundaries. It is a helpfully provocative definition; challenging us to put aside a traditional notion of any particular sector that ‘owns’ civil society and challenge our perceptions of who has the moral authority and practical power to effect change when it comes to increasing the wellbeing of our people and planet.
This is not about bringing business further into the public sector, as some may have interpreted the government’s definition. For us, it is about seizing a challenge to evolve and change business practice, to reward and incentivise organisations, communities and businesses who are focused on this broader definition of ‘wealth’. It is about creating productive, sustained relationships between communities and different kinds of entities – who bring different capabilities and resources to tackle shared challenges that we face in our society.
Calls for more funding, particularly long term funding into key geographic places across the UK is clearly needed. But in addition to that, we’ve highlighted four things that we think the UK Government could helpfully do to support a stronger civil society:
- Create an infrastructure for sharing learning, evidence, practice & innovation
- Focus on the exploitation of existing digital technologies & platforms
- Legitimise the lived experiences of people and communities across the country
- Incentivise cross-sector, collective impact in places – and across different themes