In today’s Third Sector Jonathan Sedgwick, deputy chief executive for policy and strategy at the UK Border Agency, is pushing the proposed scheme to fast track citizenship for people who volunteer.
He outlines some of the ways he sees it working, and reassures the voluntary sector that they have a chance to shape the way the programme develops:
“We are keen that the voluntary sector has its say on this scheme,” he says. “I would encourage volunteering groups to play a positive role in determining the shape of the policy by getting involved now, at the consultation stage.”
All well and good, except I’ve just been looking at the consultation around the proposed changes to citizenship.
Now it could be that I’m just being very dim (after all I’m only a Volunteer Manager, not a civil servant), but reading through the whole thing, I can’t actually see any (official!) way of us commenting on the active citizenship part of the proposals. The consultation is in the form of a set of questions that you can respond to; however there isn’t really a question about the active citizenship proposals.
They ask “Do you think that the current Nationality Checking Service model can be successfully built upon to provide a ‘check and send’ service for Earned Citizenship? If no, why not?”, but that’s asking about the National Checking Service’s ability to rubber stamp that people have been volunteering, not about the issues around that volunteering happening in the first place.
There is no room anywhere for you to add any additional comments. You could obviously bung your thoughts on the scheme in any of the free text boxes, but presumably they’ll ignore any answers which aren’t pertinent to the question asked. So basically it seems like the consultation process that Mr Sedgwick is so proudly touting as ‘the voluntary sector’s chance to shape the scheme’ has been framed in such a way that we can’t comment on the part of the proposals that actually directly effects us.