Sector figures speculate that the Office for Civil Society could close

Karl Wilding of the NCVO is among those suggesting that the OCS could be moved out of the Cabinet Office or scrapped altogether

Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office

Karl Wilding, director of public policy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and other sources in the sector say it is possible that the Office for Civil Society will be scrapped, moved out of the Cabinet Office or reformed under the new Conservative government.

When the previous Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government came to power in 2010, it renamed the Office of the Third Sector as the Office for Civil Society. The Conservatives first suggested creating an OCS in 2003.

In a blog posted on Friday, Wilding said time could be up for the OCS. He wrote: "Rumours persist that the high-wire act of deficit reduction will be achieved by wholesale closure of some government departments, and therefore fewer ministers. That’s a whole new set of relationships we’re going to have to build, assuming there’s someone there to build them with.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if the Office for Civil Society got moved from the Cabinet Office – assuming that there is still an OCS. I hope we’ll still have a minister… and an OCS. I’m worried we won’t have a central voice in government."

Another policy director, who asked not to be named, said he understood that "everything is up in the air" and that he could not be confident in the continued existence of the OCS in its present form.

Another individual working for a charity but who used to work for a Conservative MP, said: "When I was in parliament, they always used to ask where would you cut waste; the Cabinet Office has so many units that it was always talked about." This person, who also asked not be named, said they had met civil servants before the election who did not know whether OCS would still be in the Cabinet Office after the election.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said she could not comment.

Several ministerial appointments were announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on Twitter on Friday afternoon and this morning. He said further appointments would be made at lunchtime, and it is thought that a Minister for Civil Society might be appointed this afternoon.

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