Compact has 'had little impact'

Only one in four councillors, local authority and primary care trust staff think the Compact has had a significant impact on their relationship with charities, a survey has found.

The research by consultancy nfpSynergy showed that 25 per cent of councillors and 24 per cent of local authority staff agreed with the statement: "The local government Compact has made a big difference to our relationship with charities."

The survey of 460 councillors and more than 420 local authority staff - including chief executives and employees in PCTs, social care, housing and education - also found that more than half of councillors and local authority staff thought charities were able to provide public services as cost-effectively as local authorities.

Sixty-three per cent of councillors and 59 per cent of local authority staff thought charities provided public services as cost-effectively as private companies.

Both groups were strongly supportive of the idea that charities should be able to "campaign to change the policies of local government relevant to their work".

Lindsay Sutherland, a researcher for nfpSynergy, said the majority of councillors and local authority staff were either unaware of the Compact or thought it did not make much difference.

"The implication of the survey is that councillors and local authority staff are behind the idea of the Compact and that they do want to work with charities," she said. "But the fact that the Compact is not binding could mean that they don't give much importance to it."

Richard Corden, chief executive of the Commission for the Compact, said the report sent out conflicting signals.

He said that although many councillors and local authority staff thought the Compact had not made a big difference, there was a lot of support for the right of charities to campaign to change local government policies.

"Establishing the freedom of charities to campaign is one of the main principles of the Compact," he said. "Local councils strongly agree with the principles of the Compact."

MAIN POINTS

- One in four councillors and local authority staff in the survey said the Compact had a significant impact on their relationship with charities

- 63% of councillors and 59% of local authority staff thought charities provided public services as cost-effectively as private companies

- Both groups polled were supportive of charities lobbying local authorities.

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