Assessing the impact of Big Society policy

The third (and final) of Civil Exchange’s annual Big Society Audits finds that the Big Society project to hand power back to the people has largely failed against its own measures. Instead, the country is more divided, with communities having less influence over decisions and receiving less accountable services.

The report makes a series of key recommendations for the next government, including a move away from a model of public sector reform based on a market based model and competition, to one that is more collaborative, working with wider civil society rather than simply seeing it as a contractual arm. » Continue reading news item ... “Assessing the impact of Big Society policy”

First reports from Future of Voluntary Services inquiry

The National Coalition for Independent Action has released the first two of sixteen reports from its Inquiry into the Future of Voluntary Services.

  • ‘The Ideological Context’ gives the general background,
  • and ‘Ordinary Glory – Big Surprise not Big Society’ shows the reach of recent government policy down to the smallest charity.

And the second set of Inquiry reports:

  • ‘Outsourcing and the Voluntary Sector’ (pdf, 350KB) explores the motivations, progress and impact of the Coalition government’s drive to privatise public services and how this has impacted on the voluntary sector in England,
  • and ‘The Devil that has come amongst us’ (pdf, 631KB) looks in detail at the procurement and commissioning regimes.
 » Continue reading news item ... “First reports from Future of Voluntary Services inquiry”

Learning from the Big Society

Civil Exchange has published ‘The Big Society Audit 2013’ which “looks beyond the rhetoric of this controversial policy to find out what has been happening in practice”. Available via (pdfs, summary 1.63MB, full report 1.92MB).

The principal author also writes for The Guardian ‘Big society is not dead – it needs to engage with the voluntary sector’.

Getting young people involved in their communities

A seven-year national campaign, bringing together employers, educators plus voluntary and community groups, aims to double the number of children and young people taking part in social action programmes. Step Up 2 Serve is an independent organisation but will link with government youth social action funding initiatives (see earlier news item).

CYP Now news item or go direct to

Charities powered by small ‘Civic Core’

A new report by the Charities Aid Foundation discovers that nine per cent of people give 66 per cent of the time and money donated to charities in Britain, who they describe as the country’s “Civic Core”, while 24 per cent do little or nothing for charity. The report aims to spark a debate about ways to make Britain a more generous society by showing the big differences in attitudes. » Continue reading news item ... “Charities powered by small ‘Civic Core’”

Influencing the government, and more thoughts on Big Society

From The Guardian ‘Is there any point in charities lobbying under the coalition?‘ – the coalition government may treat charities differently, but the basics of influencing haven’t changed.

On Voluntary Action History Society discussion pages, ‘Big Society and the new austerity’,