The first England-wide survey of local Compacts has discovered high levels of support for the agreement on fair play between the public and voluntary sectors, but serious concerns about the government’s commitment to it.
Compact Voice, which represents the voluntary sector on the Compact, conducted the survey among its membership and other interested parties from both sectors. It plans to repeat the exercise annually.
Eighty-eight per cent of the 283 respondents agreed that "the Compact is important and that effort needs to be made to implement it in full". Sixty per cent agreed strongly.
But people were less convinced about the effectiveness of the agreement, which began in 1998.
Only 25 per cent of voluntary sector respondents agreed that people in charities were ‘actively engaged in their local Compact’.
When asked what could be done to make local Compacts more effective, the top two responses were ‘more promotion and awareness’ and ‘leadership from senior officers in the public sector’.
The report says: "A number of responses indicated that there has been a lack of leadership from national government since the launch of the renewed Compact in December 2010."
Tom Elkins, manager of Compact Voice, said: "We’re getting mixed messages from the government about the importance of the Compact.
"There is a sense that it agrees with the principles, but the examples it is setting with short consultation responses have the potential to undermine perceptions of its commitment."
Elkins said the consultation period on the Office for Civil Society’s Modernising Commissioning green paper, which lasted 17 working days, was an example of this.
He also called on the OCS to endorse Compact Voice’s recent guidance on what constitutes "meaningful engagement".
But he said overall the survey showed a "reassuring" level of support for the Compact.
The report shows support for the Compact is strongest in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and the South West.
But only 29 per cent of respondents in the East Midlands agreed that people in the voluntary sector knew about the Compact, compared to the national average of 61 per cent, and only five per cent agreed that people in the sector were actively engaged with their Compact, compared with 59 per cent in the West Midlands.
The report calls the level of engagement in the East Midlands "shocking".
The Office for Civil Society did not respond to a request for comment on the report.