Audit of the Big Society announced

A new independent audit of the Government’s Big Society - the first comprehensive assessment of how far community empowerment, social action and the opening up public services is being achieved - has been announced today.

The Audit’s first report is expected to be published early next year and will bring data together to measure how far, in practice, a genuine transfer of power from government to civil society is taking place.

The newly-created think-tank, Civil Exchange, is to carry out the Big Society Audit in collaboration with independent research organisation, Democratic Audit, and social policy communications agency, DHA.

The Big Society Audit is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Caroline Slocock, director of Civil Exchange, said: “The Big Society’s stated goals, if delivered, could promote a genuine shift of power from government to civil society.

"The aim of the audit is to look beyond the sometimes heated political debate to discover what is happening in practice, capturing wherever possible the impact on different communities and groups.

"The first Audit will seek to establish a baseline and will also reflect the impact of similar initiatives by the last government. In subsequent years, we will increasingly measure the impact of more recent policies.”

Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg, executive director of Democratic Audit, said: “The social changes being promoted by the Big Society are part of a long term trend that is likely to continue for many years to come. Democratic Audit is delighted to be involved in this project which will enhance the work we are already doing to measure the quality of democracy in the UK through our annual Democratic Audit. “

As a first step, Civil Exchange and Democratic Audit are now consulting government, academics and others on how best to measure the Big Society and to identify where further research is needed.

Subject to funding, the Big Society Audit will be repeated in subsequent years, and will carry out new primary research to plug gaps in the existing research material.

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