Think tank calls for evidence about sector's relationship with central government

Civil Exchange says it will produce two reports on the issue to fill the gap between the end of the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, and a planned panel on the sector's future

The Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament

The think tank Civil Exchange is calling for evidence about the voluntary sector’s relationship with government for two new reports on independence.

Civil Exchange said it wanted to fill the gap between the work of the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, which produced its final report in February, and a new panel on the future of the sector that is expected to begin work in 2017.

The think tank said it would produce assessments, one in early 2016 and another a year later, on the independence of the voluntary sector and its relationship with the state.

It said it wanted to receive evidence about the sector’s independence and review developments, including the Conservative Party’s big society agenda.

Caroline Slocock, director of Civil Exchange, who was head of the secretariat to the former independence panel, said: "We will be exploring whether recent negative trends can be reversed – which include contract terms and legislation that restrict the sector’s independent voice, reduced consultation and weak protection against state interference. We will also look at whether devolution will make genuine collaboration easier."

She said the think tank would also consider whether the voluntary sector and its regulators were "doing all they can to maintain the sector’s independent mission".

She said: "Some big charities have come under increasing fire in recent months, raising legitimate questions about whether they are genuinely following their mission and values in everything they do."

The Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, which was formed in 2011, produced one report a year over a four-year period.

Its final report, published in February, said that threats to the independence of charities had intensified and the sector needed to seek a new settlement with government to change ministerial attitudes to the sector.

To contribute evidence to the latest exercise, visit www.civilexchange.org.uk.

Andy Ricketts

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