Pro Bono Economics is issuing a call for evidence to inform a year-long research project exploring local civil society infrastructure (LCSI). 

The research is being conducted by PBE, in partnership with Ipsos UK and the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, with the support of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

It follows calls by PBE for a “root and branch review” of LCSI, as part of the Law Family Commission on Civil Society.

LCSI exists to support and promote civil society organisations through the provision of advice, guidance and development training; promoting collaboration; providing sector leadership locally, and/or helping to promote volunteering. It consists of place-based organisations such as Councils for Voluntary Service (CVSs), Volunteer Centres and Community Foundations, among others.

Recent research by 360Giving shows a decline in spending on LCSI, indicating that LCSI has not grown in line with the wider sector.

The call for evidence provides an opportunity for those with evidence, insight or knowledge of LCSI to submit any literature or evidence they feel is relevant to the four research questions. They are:

        Which organisations make up local civil society infrastructure in England, and what do they do?

        How can we measure whether there is sufficient coverage and quality of local civil society infrastructure in local areas in England?

        What is the impact of local civil society infrastructure in England, who benefits from it and what are the consequences and costs where it is absent or fragile?

        What are the most effective ways of strengthening and improving local civil society infrastructure?

Anyone wishing to submit evidence to the project is invited to do so via the PBE website. The deadline for submissions is Friday 26 January.

Jack Larkham, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at PBE, said:

“Having called for a 'root and branch review' of local civil society infrastructure as part of the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, we are delighted to be partnering with Ipsos and CRESR to deliver this vital and timely research and are grateful to DCMS for their support.

“This call for evidence provides the opportunity for anyone with research or insight into local civil society infrastructure in England to contribute to this important work and will help to ensure that the diversity and complexity of this subject matter is properly explored. Thank you in advance to anyone who takes the time to contribute.”