Today, (Thursday 9th August) the UK Government launched their civil society strategy: building a future that works for everyone. The UK Government strategy has been set out in five chapters which show the five foundations of social value in turn. As set out below and in the image below that.
- People – enabling a lifetime of contribution focuses on the role of citizens in civil society, with particular reference to the role of young people.
- Places – empowerment and investment for local communities presents a vision of ‘place’, and the role of government in supporting local communities.
- The social sector – supporting charities and social enterprises explains the government’s approach to the core of civil society i.e. the social sector of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises including mutuals.
- The private sector – promoting business, finance and tech for good outlines the role of business, finance and tech in civil society.
- The public sector – ensuring collaborative commissioning explains how the government sees the future role of civil society organisations in the delivery of public services.
What is the more interesting aspect of the strategy from the recommendations presented in Jack’s WCMT report is on the foundation of social value of People with a specific focus on Mission 2: People in Charge. Within this section the Government presents its strategy on how to get more citizens actively engaged in democracy especially within their local community.
In regard to opportunities for young people, the Government strategy discusses an increase in arts, sports and youth opportunities. It further comments that DCMS will set up the following:
- Youth Steering Group
- National Young Commissioners and Inspectors Group
- Build Systems to affect future policy (likely Digital)
Within the strategy it is encouraging to see that there are a number of ministerial statements from across Government including Education, Justice, Education, Immigration, Housing, Business and others.
It is encouraging to see this change of mindset from the idea of giving down to how the Government should empower its citizens with the skills required to be able to make a change and a difference in their community. Within the strategy the government proposes a number of methods to open the Government and public sector to citizen input (p40), the Government needs to explore the best practice methods but once a suitable and impact based result is found the Government needs to go further to encourage wider engagement and take up of it.
I was pleased to see that the Government are planning on setting up a Youth Steering Group within DCMS to oversee the development and implementation of policies affecting young people. However, within this it is important that it does not become a tokenistic enterprise which does not allow young people real power to affect change. It is also disappointing that the strategy fails to address the many challenges which young people face in engaging with projects. Many of the challenges are about the young persons circumstances while others are structural, and the Government can address both of these in order to make sure that society does work for everyone.
Even though my report suggests that funders should move away from results, the true commitment of this Government to civil society participation will be them fully implementing the strategy and making sure voices are heard at all levels.