Carnegie UK Trust report calls for a bolder role for civil society

Making Good Society says the sector can help foster responsibility and decentralise power

Voluntary sector organisations must position themselves at the heart of society if the aim of a more equitable social environment is to be achieved, a major inquiry into the future of the sector has concluded.

The independent Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society, funded by the Carnegie UK Trust, was set up in 2006 to consider the future of civil society until 2025. It covers the role of charities, trade unions and faith groups, as well as informal groups such as campaigns and networks.

Its report, Making Good Society, published this week, tackles subjects ranging from the economic crisis to climate change and the decentral­isation of power at every level of society.

It says civil society must be "bolder in asserting what it can contribute to reshaping finance, tackling climate change and regenerating democracy, and bolder in using its power, assets and influence".

It argues that civil society is a key factor in rebalancing society towards "responsible values and away from damaging principles of ‘me first' and profit at any cost".

It can help shift the public mood from the "‘me generation' to the ‘we generation'", the report says.

It also suggests that an Office for Civil Society, which would have a broader remit than the existing
Office for the Third Sector, could support activity beyond the voluntary sector.

Geoff Mulgan, the director of the Young Foundation and the inquiry's chairman, said the report set out a
"definitive shift from doing things ‘to' and ‘for' people, to doing ‘with'".

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