Commission for the Compact applies for statutory powers

The commission has applied for statutory powers to enforce the Compact - the agreement between voluntary organisations and government.

Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact, will outline his full list of recommendations at the Compact annual meeting in London today.

It comes in the wake of a three-month review of the future of the agreement, which generated 74 written responses.

The commission, which was established in April 2007 to oversee the Compact, has been criticised for lacking teeth.

To tackle this, Massie has urged Kevin Brennan, Minister for the Third Sector, to give the commission power to investigate alleged Compact breaches, demand information relevant to inquiries and make recommendations based on its findings.

He also wants the commission to be given the power to require people or organisations to respond to its recommendations. However, it would not be able to take any further action against Compact abusers.

The commission's report on the three-month Compact debate, which ended last month, says: "A small number of local authorities expressed reservations about giving the commission powers which proved to be intrusive, interventionist or likely to impose a heavy burden of administration.

"Although these concerns were not echoed by the Local Government Association, it would clearly be necessary to recognise these concerns and to ensure that interventions are proportionate and consistent with the Compact principles of cooperation."

Massie's recommendations also include rewriting the Compact and its codes into a single document that takes into account political developments, such as local strategic partnerships and local area agreements, which have occurred since the Compact began in 1998.

"The commission would guarantee that a rewritten Compact would not be a watered-down version of what now exists," the commission's report on the debate says.

There was little support for the idea of the Compact itself receiving statutory powers, with the commission saying this would be "inherently adversarial" and would "undermine the value of the Compact as a partnership agreement developed through dialogue and joint working".

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