Compact in action: What would make the Compact work better?

Saskia Daggett, the NCVO's Compact advocacy manager, identifies six priorities.

. Tell more people about it This is still far and away the biggest problem we face. Far too many people in the public and voluntary sectors don't know what the Compact is. Government departments don't want to be accused of bad practice, and if they knew about their responsibilities there would be less of a problem.

2. Inform the foot soldiers There is a gap between what is said about the Compact and what happens. Chief executives often know all about it, but commissioners and procurement officers don't, so things that should get done don't get done. It is slightly better at local than national level because people have been engaged in developing Compacts.

3. Pay in advance It sounds like such a minor point, but late payment can cripple organisations. One charity applied for funding to a central government department and, although it got grants, they were paid in arrears, so it couldn't roll out a pilot programme. The trustees did not have the reserves to pay for it.

4. Involve charities in decisions Government and the voluntary sector are supposed to be partners, but one partner is more powerful - it holds the purse strings and makes the decisions. When it doesn't communicate, it's the voluntary sector that struggles. The Section 64 delays this year were a classic example: there was just silence.

5. Better commissioning Government doesn't fund the voluntary sector to help the sector as such, but to help its beneficiaries. Yet beneficiaries' views often go unheard at the commissioning stage because the sector is not consulted.

6. Greater use of the BME and community groups code Hardly any BME organisations know that if the Government withdraws funding for any reason, even at the end of a grant, it has to hold a joint review on what impact this will cause. This is recognition that BME groups are disadvantaged and need help. But too many organisations don't know about it.

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