It is sometimes difficult to match timescales between organisations and their actions. I recently attempted to withdraw a large sum from a bank’s ATM, the money did not come out and I initially assumed that the machine had ignored my instructions, until I checked my balance. I raised my concern with the bank, yet it took 24 days for them to confirm that the money had not in fact been paid out and to return the money to my account. It was a difficult 24 days for me and yet the same bank acts much quicker if I go overdrawn!
Unfortunately the same sort of disconnect happens within Government. Following the 2011 riots, Boris Johnson purchased 3 water cannon to be used by police in London, it took Theresa May two years to decide that he could not do so. Why she needed all that time to make a decision that was patently the right one is completely bizarre. After all water cannon are not a new technology, indeed the three machines that Boris spent public money on were towards the end of their working life. However the same Government has just invited charities to be part of a scheme to raise the profile of philanthropy in the UK through an event called ‘Local Charities Day’ in 2017. The Office of Civil Society wants charities to host the promotional campaign for the day, a campaign which they want to start by the end of this year. However the OCS announced this opportunity on Monday 8th August and want a response with a set of plans and costs by Sunday 21st August. All of us take time to respond to unexpected requests, particularly when these place a demand on peoples time and priorities. At any time of year giving charities two weeks to respond to such a suggestion would be wholly unrealistic, in August it is simply ridiculous. At one time the Government was a signatory to an agreement with the charitable sector called the Compact. They agreed to give 12 weeks to respond to consultations. Whilst this was not a consultation, 2-3 months is what most organisations would need to respond with a thought through business plan. Offering less than 2 weeks is an mark as to how out of touch the Government in general and the OCS in particular is.