Compact in action: St John's Housing Trust and Suffolk County Council

The Compact helped to secure £5,000 for the charity after it was told funding was to end.

The problem

St John's Housing Trust, a small housing charity in the Suffolk coastal town of Lowestoft, employs a buddy scheme worker, who helps people who previously used the charity's services to continue living independently. The buddy supports 10 people.

Suffolk County Council has funded the position since 2002, but in December it announced that funding for the post would end in three months.

The action

The decision was taken without consultation and therefore breached the Suffolk Compact's funding code, which says that public sector agencies will "recognise the need for fairness, equality of access, consistency, diversity and transparency".

The trust contacted the Compact advocacy team of NCVO, the umbrella body, which wrote to the council in March highlighting the breach. The charity was particularly irked because it had been obliged to send the council quarterly reports on the buddy worker and never got any feedback. It also frequently had to chase the council for funding.

"If you don't give feedback for three years, delay payment and then say, out of the blue, 'we are going to stop funding', it doesn't look like very good partnership working," says Paul Cornell, operations manager at St John's.

The outcome

The charity negotiated an extra three months' funding of its own accord, but when the NCVO got involved the council acknowledged its Compact error. It maintained, however, that it no longer wanted to fund the post and offered a one-off payment of £5,000. The charity is considering whether to accept the offer or to push for more money.

Cornell says: "The Compact helped to secure £5,000, and that's not to be sniffed at, but the scheme supports 10 clients and costs £17,500 a year."

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