Existing regulators could be used to enforce the Compact

Plans are under way to use existing regulators to help enforce the Compact, the interim Compact commissioner will reveal this week.

In her speech at the Compact annual meeting in London tomorrow, Helen Baker will reveal plans to improve the standing of the Compact by working with the Audit Commission, which monitors how public money is spent at local level, and the Charity Commission.

"We know statutory powers for the Compact aren't an option at the moment, but using existing regulators will help us," she told Third Sector in advance of the meeting.

The Commission for the Compact is in talks with the Audit Commission to persuade it to include aspects of the Compact in Comprehensive Area Assessments, the new system designed to assess local strategic partnerships. These are working agreements between private, public and voluntary sectors in local authority areas. CAAs will replace the current system for reviewing local government performance in 2009.

The Commission for the Compact will also meet the Charity Commission next week to try to encourage the regulator to consider looking at Compact-related issues, such as governance, when carrying out charity investigations.

The Compact is intended to ensure proper standards in public-voluntary sector relationships, including funding and contracts.

Ben Wittenberg, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change, said getting the regulators on board would help raise the Compact's profile.

"Everyone in government knows what the Audit Commission is, and is probably terrified of it, and everybody in the third sector knows the Charity Commission," he said.

"So they are in a strong position to play a role. It has been well documented that awareness of the Compact has been dismal, so this is a good first step."

Baker will also outline plans to revisit the Compact's black and minority ethnic code to see if it could encompass other minority groups.

This could involve widening the BME code or drawing up new codes for other groups.

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