Compact review plans 'could stall progress'

Plans for updating sections of the Compact will hold up progress on compliance, the Compact Commission has been warned.

A plan to review the agreement – which governs relations between the sector and government – was approved at the Compact annual general meeting in London last week. But Compact Voice, the body that looks out for the interests of the voluntary sector in matters relating to the Compact, said revising the agreement would cause progress to slow.

“We have never turned away a voluntary sector organisation because the Compact is not relevant to their situation,” said Saskia Daggett, Compact manager at Compact Voice, speaking after the meeting. “If we stall it by rewriting it, that will hold us up. The Compact covers everything, it’s just that people don’t know how to use it.”

Richard Corden, interim chief executive at the Commission for the Compact, said the proposal to review the Compact’s codes had been agreed by partners, including Compact Voice.

“The action of reviewing codes of the national Compact for a potential update in 2009 forms part of the plan agreed and accepted by the meeting and the commission will lead on that,” he said.

Subcontracting code planned

At the meeting, employment minister Caroline Flint said that the Department for Work and Pensions would be putting in place a code of practice for subcontracting. Such a code had been recommended by a recent Acevo-commissioned inquiry into the DWP’s Pathways to Work procurement exercise, which used a model of appointing large ‘prime contractors’ that could sub-contract out work to smaller organisations (Third Sector Online, 23 November).

“We intend to publish a code of conduct for prime contractors who are working with other providers,” said Flint. “It is our view that the prime providers should take responsibility for dealing with a lot of the risk to enable the sub-contractors to get on with doing what they are best at.”

Helen Baker, the interim Compact Commissioner, said a code was unnecessary. “Let’s try not to make this agreement any more complicated by adding new codes,” she said.

Regulators brought on board

Baker confirmed that the Commission for the Compact would be working with regulators including the Charity Commission and the Audit Commission to try to persuade them to enforce the Compact (Third Sector, 12 December).

Christopher Kelly, chair of Compact Voice, also announced at the meeting that he was standing down after his appointment as chair of the Committee for Standards in Public Life.

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