Compact could die, says Sir Bert Massie

Head of the Commission for the Compact, which is being abolished, fears the new arrangements to protect the agreement are 'dysfunctional'

Sir Bert Massie
Sir Bert Massie

Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact, has said he fears that the Compact could die under the stewardship of the Office for Civil Society and Compact Voice.

The Commission for the Compact will be abolished next week as part of the government's quango cull.

In an interview with Third Sector, Massie says he doubts whether the OCS or Compact Voice, which represents the voluntary sector's interest in the agreement, can fill the void because both represent specific interests.

"With the commission you at least had an organisation that was equidistant between the third sector and government," he says.

Massie describes the new arrangements as "dysfunctional" in the interview, carried out ahead of the commission's closure next week.

"It could be that the Compact will die," he says. "Now more than ever we need someone to enforce it, and we've lost that."

In the interview, Massie questions whether Compact Voice had the resources to champion the public and voluntary sector partnership agreement effectively, and says he fears the forthcoming National Audit Office investigation into the Compact, announced by Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, last year, would not provide adequate scrutiny.

"It is committed to doing one study of the Compact," he says. "I was suggesting to ministers that we should look at the commission reporting to parliament every year."

Hurd told Third Sector: "I understand why Bert should feel a great sense of pride in the commission. Our decision was not a reflection on the people there or the quality of their work.

"We simply felt that, for the Compact to work, there were three things we needed to consider: to make it simpler, to increase transparency and to improve accountability.

"The NAO is an organisation that has real bite across government in a way that frankly, the commission didn't."

The full interview with Massie will appear in Third Sector on 29 March

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