Cultural Playing Field

NCVO Members’ Assembly meeting by Robin Simpson
October 15, 2010, 3:51 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

On Thursday I was in Birmingham to take part in a meeting of the NCVO Members’ Assembly. The theme of the day was whether the Big Society is likely to be a help or a hindrance to the future of civil society. Our conclusion, unsurprisingly, was both: while there is still a lack of clarity and significant cynicism around the Big Society agenda, it undoubtedly represents an opportunity for the voluntary and community sector. We agreed that it was important for civil society organisations to seize the initiative. In the ongoing search for a decent definition of what ‘Big Society’ means, I was impressed with the three-part description offered by NCVO’s Head of Policy, Belinda Pratten, who said Big Society is about: localism (devolving power from central Government to individuals, neighbourhoods and local councils); rights (the right to buy community assets, the right to challenge local government and the right to bid to run local services); and support for voluntary action (including initiatives to encourage volunteering, encouraging philanthropy, the Big Society Bank, support for grassroots organisations and making it easier to set up and run voluntary and community organisations). In relation to this last point it was interesting to have the opportunity to hear directly yesterday from Lord Hodgson, NCVO’s President, who is chairing the ‘Reducing Red Tape Task Force’. He emphasised that the Task Force, which is looking at how to reduce the regulatory burden on voluntary and community organisations, is particularly keen to hear about specific regulatory problems being experienced by small, grassroots groups. In the Big Society small is important!

Robin Simpson.


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