A radical rethink of how the state, private and voluntary sectors as well as citizens interact with each other is needed to address the challenges of the 21st century, according to a report by a group of charity leaders.
The report, A Call to Action for the Common Good, was commissioned by a working group of sector leaders, led by Lucy de Groot, chief executive of Community Service Volunteers, and including Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca. It was funded by the Carnegie UK Trust, which contributed £10,000.
The report calls on all sectors to end short-term approaches to problems and to create opportunities for a wider range of people and organisations to put forward solutions to today’s problems.
It also calls for changes to decision-making structures, such as company boards – for example, by including more women on them and giving more say to people in the running of new or existing institutions, such as healthcare services.
Finally, the report recommends creating local budgets "under the shared direction of citizens and statutory agencies" as a means of investing in problems, for example social care, before they turn into a crisis.
Both local and national government should act as a facilitator to bring business and the voluntary sector together to see where they can collaborate usefully, it says.
It also calls for the private, state and voluntary sectors, as well as individuals, to play to their strengths to achieve the best outcomes for society and to connect people and sectors to harness their power and "promote solidarity between young and old".
But it says significant barriers exist to the report’s vision of a more effective society, including the lasting effects of austerity and the inability of civil society to fill the gap left by the state because of a lack of resources.
Tackling the private sector monopolies that lead to large companies winning big public service contracts at the expense of smaller organisations with better expertise must also be tackled, the report says, as should the notion of central command and control.
The report says: "The transformation required to achieve the common good vision will not be achieved unless these concentrations of power are addressed, making allies wherever possible, but challenging vested interests when it is not."
De Groot said: "This is a call to action to shape a positive view of the future, honest about the challenges, ambitious about the potential. Our belief is that private companies, public sector agencies, civil society bodies and political parties can be stimulated to consider how they themselves can model common good approaches more effectively in their own organisations and sphere of influence, and so turn their principles into actions."