Revised Compact 'ignores the needs of small groups'

Community Sector Coalition says rewritten agreement is not fit for purpose

Organisations representing small charities have major concerns about the revised Compact and fear the agreement could struggle to survive.

A shorter version of the Compact, which outlines how the public and voluntary sectors should behave towards each other, was due to be published at the beginning of next month after a consultation on the revised version closed last week.

But the Office of the Third Sector pushed back the date until the end of the year amid widespread concern from smaller community groups that the new version ignored their needs and catered mainly for large charities that deliver contracts.

The Community Sector Coalition, a group of 20 national charities and umbrella bodies, said in its response to the consultation that the revised Compact was "not fit for purpose" and should be rewritten immediately.

Matthew Scott, director of the coalition, said there had been a "wish to suspend disbelief" about the effectiveness of the Compact during the debate on its future. But he said the new version lacked relevance to the community sector and his organisation was unable to support it.

The submission of training and publishing charity the Directory of Social Change, written by policy officer Jay Kennedy, said the Compact had been "on life support" and it was now doubtful if it could be resurrected.

"If the Compact continues to pretend that the relationships between government and voluntary organisations are partnerships between equals, it is destined for irrelevance - no matter how clear and updated the guidelines are," said the submission. "The bulk of the sector will remain uninterested."

Voice4Change England, which represents almost 6,000 black and minority ethnic third sector groups, said it was "extremely concerned" about the decision to get rid of the BME code. It said the document "places weak and superficial commitments on public bodies and the Government to support equality groups".

Local umbrella body Bassac said that, without clear statutory obligations, the Compact was "in serious danger of remaining moribund for front-line organisations".

But Navca, which represents the local voluntary sector, said the new draft was "consistent with a wide range of good practice guidance, as well as with the principles of public law".

A spokeswoman for the Commission for the Compact said it would consider all the views.

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Commission for the Compact

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