Andy Haldane, chief executive of the RSA and former chief economist at the Bank of England, has been appointed to help the government with its levelling up agenda.
Haldane, who took over at the RSA this month, will be seconded to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for the next six months, to head up a new task force.
The move is part of a wider government reshuffle, which has also seen a new secretary of state with responsibility for charities.
The RSA said that two members of its senior staff, chief research and impact officer Anthony Painter and chief operating officer Natalie Carsey, will run the RSA jointly until Haldane returns.
Haldane has been appointed as a permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, and will lead a new committee working on the government’s promise to level up the poorest regions of the UK.
The levelling up agenda has been heavily criticised by charities for ignoring the importance of civil society to regenerating and supporting strong communities, but Haldane has a long-standing interest in improving ways to the understand and measure how charities contribute to society.
In 2020, he warned that this contribution “is often underestimated and overshadowed relative to the public and the private sectors. These sectors tend to be fairly well defined, indeed fairly well measured, whereas the amorphous mass of civil society is typically neither”.
As a result, civil society too often “has been the invisible residual”, he said, as it is largely “out of statistical sight and out of policymakers’ minds”.
Backing for civil society
Writing for Civil Society News this January, Haldane said he was proud of his work on the Law Family Commission, which “aims to put measurement of the social sector and social capital at the centre of how we measure societal success.
“With its role so crucial, it is hard to think of a better time to do so than now”.
Haldane has also written about the importance of focusing on “societal wellbeing” in neglected parts of the country alongside economic improvements, while blogging for the What Works Centre for Wellbeing.