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Posted by Sarah Brown on 09 Aug '18

We're all responsible if we want a Great Britain

From responsible business to charities, social enterprises and individuals, the government's new Civil Society Strategy wants us all to get involved. Here is a summary of the main strands of the Strategy plus access to a responsible organisation blueprint.

I was interested to wake up this morning to the news that the government had launched a Civil Society Strategy. I thought it would be interesting to read to see what impact it might have on some charity clients but when I got to the first visual I was excited to see the phrase Responsible Business which we have been promoting for some time with our Responsible Organisation Charter.

Responsible business is essential to building a stronger society that works for everyone. The government’s Industrial Strategy prioritises long-term business growth as central for national prosperity, and we support responsible business as a force for good in our society. Our leading businesses increasingly put social and environmental responsibility at the heart of what they do. It is key to their strategies for long-term, sustainable value, including how they manage risk, and how they sustain public and investor trust in their brands and business models.

Civil Society Strategy - Building a society that works for everyone HM Government Cabinet Office

As for the government strategy here is a quick summary the full document can be downloaded here

Working together

What seems to me to be a bit of a new take is the focus on collaboration across all sectors and individuals and places! – though I confess I can’t really remember the detail of the Big Society. There are five areas listed.


There has been a return to supporting community organising with 3,500 people being trained to help connect people and encouragement involvement and individuals to take a proactive attitude to solving problems rather than waiting for the government or councils to do something. There’s going to be a National Citizen Service Trust responsible for ensuring young people get access to opportunities to contribute and £90 million for a youth initiative be spent to help young people facing barriers to work to meet their full potential with particular focus on the data from the Race Disparity Audit. The money will not be controlled by government and they want to “test and evaluate different interventions over time, leaving a legacy of increased youth employment in target areas, a decreased black and minority ethnic youth employment gap nationally, and a solid evidence base for targeted interventions supporting the most disadvantaged young people, including those at risk of serious violence.”

The goal is “to harness the experience of grassroots youth workers, businesses, and other local services to build a strong partnership of support around each young person. …The government will also work with uniformed youth groups to consider how they can further expand in disadvantaged areas.”

While young people are also important I regret there is no mention of the potential army of older people who could be more engaged in the community – I know from personal experience there is a real need to attract more involvement from all ages.


This appears to reflect the need for people to live in good places and they are looking to design a programme to look at more sustainable community spaces. Since we focus a lot in this area I know the most sustainable programmes we have come up with involve all sections of the community but are complex to identify and then get going. They mention community rights, these certainly need a boost as despite much talk there has not been as much action as everyone hoped for particularly in the area of asset transfers.

The social sector

Is this the name for the Third or not for profit sector now? There is talk of supporting the sector to be more vocal and not be afraid of losing funding if they challenge the public sector. Some money, £20 million, and encouraging ‘collective giving’ to create larger funds to tackle problems which hopefully would go to smaller charities without the large fundraising teams. Also support for more innovation and a move to use digital technology more effectively. This will only work if the sector has the capacity I know having run innovation sessions for charities that few have the people or money to be as creative as they want.

The private sector

Most businesses are micro in size so I am concerned that the Inclusive Economy Unit needs to consider small business as well as the big corporates. There is talk of money for social impact investment and further support for responsible business in 2019 maybe when we no longer have to comply with EU rules, I’m not sure. There’s also going to be £55 million for private and social sectors to tackle financial exclusion, an area close to my own heart after my work with central government and Credit Unions and the opening of bank accounts.

The public sector

No talk of more money, just collaborative commissioning “This means that in the future, local stakeholders will be involved in an equal and meaningful way in commissioning and all the resources of a community, including but not confined to public funding, will be deployed to tackle the community’s challenges. People will be trusted to codesign the services they use.” More use of the Social Value Act (see my blog from 2014 see below!) and grant making – I’ve read this section but don’t really understand the impact it will have. Again, I’ve helped councils develop a fair grants programme so understand this can be complex.

Related to all the above you may find interesting:

How a wheel became a ROC to support you in achieving your business goals

How supporting your local community can increase your success at winning business

Collaboration is the key to future success in business