Talking Points: readers react to speculation that Office for Civil Society will be scrapped

Views on: sector independence and the Citizen Advice rebrand

The Office for Civil Society
The Office for Civil Society

OCS 'could be scrapped'

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

In a blog post, Wilding said time could be up for the OCS. "Rumours persist that the high-wire act of deficit reduction will be achieved by wholesale closure of some government departments, and therefore fewer ministers," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if the OCS 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."

Other sector sources said they could not be confident that the OCS would continue in its current form.

Commenting on ThirdSector.co.uk, Joe Saxton said: "Would we really miss either a minister or an OCS? It makes the sector feel loved, but its achievements in the last parliament were far from clear."

'The sector must form an independent vision'

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, called on the sector to form its own vision for voluntary action and not rely on government to do so.

In an open letter to coincide with the general election on 7 May, Etherington also criticised the outgoing government's enthusiasm for social investment as an "eager but ultimately glib search for novelty and quick fixes", which he said could not be the answer to everything.

"I believe that no government is going to find a vision for voluntary action, nor should we want them to," wrote Etherington. "We need to look to our own sector for our own solutions."

Jamie Ward-Smith commented: "I could not agree more with Stuart - governments keep foisting their ideal of what volunteering and social action should look like, with much of our sector feeling compelled to comply in order to access funding. We know our agenda better than anyone, so we need to ensure that we both set and communicate our vision, influencing government policy rather than having it set upon us. Our sector was built by people and groups who took voluntary action to respond to a particular need. They did not rely on government to do this and, in many cases, have successfully changed government policy to effect wider change. Stuart's call is a timely reminder that we are ultimately responsible for our own future."

Citizens Advice makes a start on its £1m rebrand

Citizens Advice, the umbrella body for local advice charities in England and Wales, has begun a £1m rebrand that will result in local branches dropping the word "bureau" from their names.

A spokeswoman for Citizens Advice said it had updated its website and logo, the first public-facing step in a brand refresh that would last two years. She said the organisation, which supports 320 local Citizens Advice charities, wanted to make sure people understood what services the charity offered.

Citizens Advice had been discussing the name change with the local bureaux and the feedback had been positive, she said.

Lukasz Konieczka commented: "Really? This is such a waste of money if you think £1m could be spent on vital services, especially in the current climate."

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