Compact in action: Commission for the Compact

It is celebrating its first birthday with a new commissioner and a full team of staff.

The Commission for the Compact is now one year old. It has not enjoyed an easy start in life: last year it was staffed mainly by interim employees, and both Compact Commissioner John Stoker and chief executive Angela Sibson left in rapid succession.

But things are starting to look up. The organisation is now almost fully staffed by permanent employees and a new commissioner, Sir Bert Massie, is in place.

Massie's appointment was accompanied by an announcement by the Office of the Third Sector that the commission would receive £6m of funding over the next three years.

The appointment of a new chief executive will be the final piece in the jigsaw. The deadline for applications is today, and Richard Corden, who has been filling the post on a temporary basis since Sibson's departure, has applied.

The new chief executive will join a head of policy, three policy advisers, three communications staff, a finance and resources manager and a researcher at the commission's Birmingham office. Helen Baker, the acting commissioner before Massie's appointment, has returned to her role as non-executive director.

"I don't think anyone connected with the commission would argue that it has been an easy year," says Corden. "We now want to focus on the fact that we have organisational stability, a full and excellent staff team, funding and an agreed work plan."

He describes the funding settlement as "a bit more than most people expected". He adds: "It's a vote of confidence in the commission and it reinforces the Government's commitment to the Compact."

He says the money will enable the commission to achieve the three strands of its work plan: to increase awareness of the Compact, to identify evidence that it works and to maintain its relevance.

Maintaining relevance could include giving the Compact a new name that people might find easier to understand, although Corden says this is not an immediate priority.

There is also the thorny issue of statutory powers: ministers have pledged to review the situation in 2009 and Corden says it needs serious consideration. That debate is likely to intensify as a ministerial review draws closer.

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