Compact must cover commissioning and contracts, says Hope

The Compact must have wider powers to cover commissioning, contracting and sub-contracting, according to Phil Hope, the minister for the third sector.

"We need to get the Compact rewritten to cover the new world of commissioning and contracting, and sub-contracting as a specific within that," said Hope in an interview with Third Sector at the NCVO’s New Horizons funding conference at the umbrella body’s headquarters in London on 3 June.

Hope did not rule out extending the Compact to cover private organisations that take out contracts with public bodies and sub-contract services to charties.

He said that he had already spoken to Bert Massie, the Compact Commissioner, about contracting in the area of healthcare, where private sector providers often take on large public contracts and sub-contract to charities.

Charities have complained that they cannot bid for main contracts because they do not have sufficient resources, but are then taken advantage of as subcontractors by the private sector.

"I’ve heard of problems from a number of organisations," Hope said. "I’m in a dialogue with the Department of Work and Pensions at the moment. The department has published some guidance which will help with the issue."

An Acevo report, commissioned when fewer third sector organisations than expected won DWP Pathways to Work contracts last year, said there should be a code of practice on the treatment of subcontractors.

Hope said he would also consider whether the Compact needed to be extended to cover sub-contracting in other areas as well, including social housing.

He said he was looking at the possibility of statutory powers for the Compact. "We promised to review the legal status of the Compact," he said. "We’re determined to get that moving. We believe the Compact is a mechanism for bringing about a culture shift."

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