Compact in action: The Compact scorecard

The card has been devised to assess and improve the effectiveness of local Compacts.

The Compact is widely supported in principle, but it is generally accepted that it is struggling to have any serious impact on the ground.

In his recently published book Who Cares?, Nick Seddon, a research fellow at think tank Civitas, even says that most people working in charities believe the Compact is "not worth the paper it is written on".

One of the main problems is that there is no mechanism for measuring its effectiveness and thus little incentive to improve.

The introduction of a Compact scorecard (Third Sector, 7 February) will not solve the problem, but it does provide a first, crude opportunity for charities and their public sector partners to get together and decide how well things are working.

Hertfordshire County Council, Cheshire County Council, the Government Office for the South West and the Government Office for the North West were the first organisations to express an interest in adopting the scorecard.

Since then, the National Audit Office has revealed that it will refer to the scorecard in a guide it is producing on Local Area Agreements.

LAAs are three-year agreements between central and local government and other key partners, including the voluntary sector, setting out what issues will be tackled locally.

The draft scorecard contains 12 questions designed to measure performance in governance, communication and training. The questions ask, among other things, whether or not LAAs apply Compact principles and whether money is being set aside locally to develop the skills of staff in both sectors.

Charities and council staff are expected to fill in the form together, jointly deciding how many marks out of three to award themselves in response to each question. Awarding a maximum three points in response to all 12 questions would yield 36 points. The exercise is supposed to be repeated every six months. Each time the maximum number of points that can be awarded rises by one, so there is always room for improvement.

"The Compact needs to attract much broader support," says Paul Baresi, development officer at third sector lobby group Compact Voice, which created the scorecard. "This should give us a clearer picture of what is going on out there."

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