Local academic and business expertise harnessed for Commission on Civil Society

Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell

A Manchester academic and a business leader have been appointed to a new commission looking at how to harness civil society.

Pro Bono Economics today (October 9) unveiled 17 commissioners to head the Law Family Commission on Civil Society which, over the next two years, will steer an ambitious programme of ground-breaking research into how best to unleash the full potential of the UK’s civil society.

Its chair, former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell, said: “Civil society has long been undervalued and overlooked.

“Yet charities employ almost as many people as financial services and generate around £200bn of social value, equivalent to 10% of GDP.
“The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the critical role of civil society in all our lives.

“After years of policy neglect, now is the time to examine properly the changes that are needed to allow civil society to do still more to improve our country.”

The commissioners have been drawn from all three sectors of the economy – private, public and social – and are former politicians, philanthropists and leaders of small charities, universities, businesses and community groups.

Among them are Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester and a former TheBusinessDesk.com Business Masters Ambassador of the Year, and James Timpson, chief executive of shoe repair and key-cutting chain Timpson.

Launching in December, the two-year Commission will examine all aspects of civil society, from volunteering and philanthropy to communities and the relationship between civil society and government.

It comes at a time when civil society is facing unprecedented challenges, with charities now facing a £10bn funding gap and expected to lose 60,000 jobs as a result of coronavirus.

Lord O’Donnell added: “Leading businesses are putting purpose and profit on a par.

“Government wants to level up the country.

“Charities, themselves, know they’re going to have to do more with less as the recession bites. None of the three sectors can fulfil their aims without the others.

“It is essential all parts of society are involved in the conversation and working as one if the UK is to build back better from the COVID crisis.

“If we leave even one sector out, attempts to create inclusive growth will fail. That is why the Law Family Commission on Civil Society has brought all sectors – public, private and social – together to unlock civil society’s potential.”

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