Funding cut 'not ideal' but does not breach Compact, says Commission for the Compact

Office for Civil Society has reduced consultation period for strategic partners but given extended six-month notice of funding reduction

The Office for Civil Society’s decision to withdraw funding from its strategic partners without the usual 12 week consultation period was "not ideal" but does not constitute a breach of the Compact, according to the Commission for the Compact.

According to the Compact, the public and voluntary sector fair play agreement that was refreshed last year, government undertakes to "give organisations an opportunity to respond to the ending of funding and consider the response before making a final decision".

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said in a letter to OCS partners that "the need to provide sustainability and stability for the sector, in this case, overrides the normal requirement for a 12-week consultation process".

The letter says the process will be shortened, but does not say by how much. An OCS spokesman was unable to give further details.

Andy Forster, head of policy at the commission, which oversees the compact, said: "It would be odd if any of these partners had not anticipated changes in the light of October’s spending review.

"Clearly not having 12 weeks’ consultation, while predictable in these circumstances, is not ideal."

Forster said the situation did not compare to Angela Smith’s admitted breach of the Compact last year, when she withdrew without notice funding from organisations that had been promised support as part of the Campaigning Research Programme.

He praised Hurd for giving a six-month warning of the changes to funding, which will take effect in the next financial year.

A spokesman for Compact Voice, which represents the voluntary sector on Compact issues, said: "While we agree this doesn’t follow Compact best practice, we don’t believe this is a Compact breach, because the Compact stipulation is to give 12 weeks’ formal written consultation with an explanation given for shorter timeframes, which has been provided."

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