England & Wales Communities and society

Civil Society Innovation Network


Civil Society Innovation Network logoIt is a long while since the term, ‘The Big Society’ first graced the pages of our blog. Since then many councils have wholeheartedly embraced the Big Society concept; others have been more tentative in taking on the terminology.

But whether using the language of the Big Society or a different political rhetoric, we know that local authorities around the country are finding innovative ways to engage citizens and civil society, bring them into the design and delivery of public services and drive forward new and exciting innovations.

In order to highlight this sort of best practice, share success and also focus on the challenges ahead, LGiU are launching the Civil Society Innovation Network. The Network will bring together councils from across the political spectrum to share practice, develop new thinking and raise questions and ideas with Ministers and Government officials.

Sign up to receive updates from the Network

This will highlight the good work that councils are doing in driving forward innovation with civil society and also think about how councils and communities can move forward with the challenges ahead.

Authorities have been asked to join by invitation, and the objectives of this Network are to:

  • Identify and promote the positive role that leading councils are playing in strengthening civil society;
  • Identify barriers that councils and communities have already overcome in taking forward this agenda and the barriers that still remain;
  • Enable learning between councils on how to achieve their vision by linking to practical outputs, to improve their practice.

The Network will comprise of four focus groups between December 2011 and March 2012, and participants will share practice, offer peer support, discuss common issues and challenges and develop case studies to inspire other local.

Greg Clark MP, Minister for Decentralisation or Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, will be attending these sessions together with the LGiU, DCLG officials and representatives from the three DCLG vanguard authorities. The Network will meet in the run up to the implementation of the duties in the Localism Act.

The Network kicks off with the first meeting this week; and in the coming weeks we will be posting case studies, best practice and ideas that emerge from the Network to share with other authorities and civil society groups. You can keep track of the network by subscribing to updates about the Network or follow us on Twitter.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly: Laura.Wilkes@lgiu.org


The topics for each session are:

Session 1: Transforming Services

  • Organisational change / theories of change
  • Finance
  • Capacity building
  • Transforming services – mutuals, cooperatives
  • Best practice

Session 2: Knowing and developing your communities / community partnerships

  • Engaging with communities
  • Mapping community priorities
  • Capacity building
  • Community led commissioning
  • Community action
  • Best practice

Session 3: the Localism Bill

  • Neighbourhood plans
  • Community rights
  • Planning
  • Community finance / neighbourhood budgets
  • Assets
  • Best practice

Session 4: futures / future challenges / future role of local government

  • Role of councillors
  • Creating a vision for the future
  • Practice sharing with councils doing a total re-think
  • Next steps