Theresa May sets out vision of shared society at Charity Commission meeting

The Prime Minister tells the regulator's annual public meeting that the government will take more of a hands-on approach to helping the marginalised

Theresa May
Theresa May

The Prime Minister has set out her vision of a "shared society", in which the government will take a more hands-on approach to helping marginalised people.

In a speech at the Charity Commission annual public meeting in London this morning, Theresa May said previous governments had focused too narrowly on the very poorest people in society and a new approach was needed, one that would mark a significant shift in the way government worked in Britain.

She said the new agenda would mean creating an environment in which charities and social enterprises could thrive, in which "unacceptable and inappropriate fundraising practices" would be responded to.

She said: "It means not being ambivalent about the efforts of all those who give their time, money and expertise in the service of others and recognising, supporting and championing those who lead the way in shaping a civil society that can bring the talents of so many in our voluntary sector to bear on so many of the great social challenges we face together."

May said the government would continue to "lead the way internationally on the development of social finance, to harness the full potential of our charities and social enterprises to work with business and government to tackle some of the biggest social challenges in our country".

She said the reforms would involve the government stepping up to play an active role in tackling the "everyday injustices" which have left many people in society feeling overlooked.

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May said government and politicians had for years "talked the language of social justice, where we help the very poorest, and social mobility, where we help the brightest among the poor".

She said that in order to deliver the required change to build the shared society "we must move beyond this agenda and deliver real social reform across every layer of society so that those who feel the system is stacked against them – those just above the threshold that attracts the government’s focus today, yet those who are by no means rich or well off – are also given the help they need".

She said: "Because people who are just managing, just getting by don’t need a government that will get out of the way, they need a government that will make the system work for them."

As part of her speech, May announced a package of measures designed to improve mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities.

Responding to May’s shared society comments, Asheem Singh, interim head of the charity leaders body Acevo, said the plans needed a "practical undercarriage" and called for measures including improvements to commissioning and high-quality development funding.

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