VCS encouraged to respond to Civil Society Red Tape Challenge

Charities and VCS organisations are being encouraged to tell the Government what more can be done to release civil society from the burden of unnecessary or ineffective regulation.

As part of the Government’s war on unhelpful bureaucracy, the Health and Safety Executive has already issued simplified risk assessment forms based on common sense and proportionality, while insurance companies have clarified their policies toward volunteer drivers. The sector now has until 13 September to submit similar ideas to the Civil Society Red Tape Challenge.

Building on the consultation which took place earlier this year, the Cabinet Office will now be working with the sector on Lord Hodgson’s recently published review of the Charities Act 2006. To inform its forthcoming response to the report, the Cabinet Office will be writing to specific organisations and professionals to seek their feedback on those recommendations they support or otherwise and those which need further work.

These calls come as the Cabinet Office publishes a Progress Update outlining its work to make it easier to set up and run charities, social enterprises and other voluntary organisations. Better regulation is key, alongside enhancing skills and capability within the sector and improving access to resources, volunteers and support networks, which are all high priorities for the Government.

The Progress Update outlines how effective partnerships and strong networks will become increasingly important, particularly in challenging economic circumstances, whilst radical reform of welfare, education and other public services will demand greater leadership and more business-like skills.

A new strand of the Innovation in Giving Fund, which was set up in 2011 as part of the Giving White Paper, will explore and generate new operating and funding models for volunteer centres. The Government will also work with the sector to harness the potential of technology and digital media to reduce cost, generate income and mobilise support.

Over the past two years, the Government has invested £40million in the infrastructure that exists to support civil society. The Progress Update details some of the key achievements to date, including:

  • Introducing the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 to scale back unnecessary criminal record checks
  • Helping local charities become more efficient, target their services and build support networks through the Transforming Local Infrastructure Programme
  • Supporting the infrastructure websites Do-It and Funding Central to make it easier for charities to access volunteer databases and funding opportunities
  • Funding nine national infrastructure bodies through the Strategic Partners programme
  • Investing £1.75million in Skills Third Sector, a charity that supports the development of the sector workforce
  • Supporting Business in the Community’s Business Connectors programme, which matches charities with business professionals who offer relevant expertise.

To respond to the Civil Society Red Tape Challenge, which asks charities and VCS organisations the following three questions, visit or email by 13 September.

  • Is there red tape that stops you giving your time or money?
  • If you run a civil society organisation, are there rules and regulations that stop you making it more successful?
  • Should it be easier to invest in social ventures?

To download Lord Hodgson’s Review of the Charity Act 2006 visit

To download the Progress Update visit