Councils must do more to ensure charities are able to take part in agreements that decide local spending priorities, according to local umbrella body Navca.
A Navca survey carried out in late 2008 on the effectiveness of Local Area Agreements, which set the priorities for local authority spending, found that just under half of the 90 respondents were actively involved in developing the agreements in their local areas, and another 18 per cent said they had limited involvement.
Navca found that 62 per cent of respondents, which were mostly local infrastructure bodies, thought that LAAs had been a positive thing for the sector. But respondents still felt that LAAs were too bureaucratic, confusing or time-consuming, and many said that the third sector often did not have the resources to participate fully.
Seventy-eight per cent said they believed their relationships with public sector funders had not been helped by the process, and 88 per cent said the funding process had not been improved.
"Our survey shows that LAAs are improving relationships between public bodies and the third sector," said Neil Cleeveley, policy and communications director at Navca. "But infrastructure bodies feel they need more resources to get involved fully."
He said the sector also needed other local strategic partners such as the police, primary care trusts and job centres to get more involved in the LAA process.