Voluntary Sector: Big Society plans defended

Government insists there is 'constant dialogue' with charities over Big Society plans.

The Cabinet Office has rebuffed complaints from charities that it is not engaging with them over the Government's Big Society plans.

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office insisted it was 'working hard to engage' with charities.

'We are in constant dialogue with the main charity umbrella groups and fund "strategic partners" to help representation,' added the spokeswoman. 'Ministers often visit frontline charities and we consult widely on a range of issues. We welcome contributions to the debate and our door is always open.'

However, the body that represents charity PROs has repeated calls made in last week's PRWeek by voluntary sector comms directors for more guidance from the coalition Government.

CharityComms director Vicky Browning told PRWeek that she had written to Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd to invite him to discuss the third sector's concerns.

She said: 'My take on it is to say that if you want to get the message out, you need communicators to understand what is going on to get the most out of everyone else. No-one knows what is going on. Having made something of the Big Society plans, as the Government has, it really should inform us now what this entails for charities.'

Macmillan Cancer Support media and PR manager Anna Brosnan added her voice to the debate: 'A coalition of charities advising the Government on how to make best use of their knowledge could be a very useful thing.'

Last week, PRWeek revealed that high-profile charities held secret discussions with Lewis PR's Clarence Mitchell about forming a coalition to voice their concerns over the Government's lack of guidance on Big Society plans.

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