Compact Week: Case Study 1: A result for Compact Advocacy - Community Transport

Joe Gill

Community Transport negotiated back pay of £40,000 from a partner organisation following a dispute.

The charity, which operates 10 transport projects in the West Midlands and the North, contacted Compact Advocacy in January 2003.

More than half of the charity's income is derived from services provided to local public transport authorities, including Centro. Community Transport had concerns about how Centro was distributing Department of Transport funds to them.

Centro was withholding funds on the basis of the charity not providing adequate paperwork. Community Transport felt that the level of information required from them was too detailed and intrusive, and included pay slips, which contains employees' personal data such as tax credits.

This additional administrative burden added 2.5 per cent to the organisation's costs. Centro also withheld money if all the funds had not been used in the preceding quarter. As a result, Community Transport was left with a £40,000 shortfall.

Centro said its policy was based on guidelines from the District Audit, (part of the Audit Commission), as required by the Department of Transport.

However, this breached the Compact and its associated code of good practice on funding, which states that "more emphasis should be placed upon monitoring the output and performance and proportionality of audit requirements".

Compact Advocacy wrote to the Department of Transport and was told it hoped authorities working closely with community transport groups would not burden them with unnecessary procedures. The Department also contacted the Audit Commission to confirm that in none of the guidelines it had issued was it specified which kind of information was required from an organisation in receipt of Urban Bus Challenge funding.

During a meeting with Centro, Community Transport chief executive Murray Seccombe was able to negotiate the return of £40,000 in missing funding and a suitable method of supplying their accounts (Third Sector, 11 June 2003).

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