Local Compact breaches are rising, report reveals

The number of Compact breaches taken up by the Compact Advocacy Programme has more than tripled during the past year, its annual report reveals.

The report, published today, shows that cases of public bodies it thinks have flouted the agreement's guidelines rocketed from 26 in 2005/06 to 80 in 2006/07.

The biggest rise was in local Compact breaches, which rose from 14 to 50.

At a national level, the Home Office and the Department for Children, Schools and Families are named in the report as "repeat offenders" for disregarding the Compact.

Non-departmental public bodies appeared to be less aware of the Compact than other government departments, and some believed that the agreement did not apply to them, the report says.

The most common error made by public bodies was failing to provide the minimum three months' notice when cutting funding to voluntary groups.

Examples of "very poor practice" include Shrewsbury and Atcham Council, which announced it was withdrawing funding to a council of voluntary service on the local radio station, and a primary care trust that informed a small black and minority ethnic group about cuts two months after its funding had ended.

The report says the voluntary sector has a "pervasive fear" of challenging public bodies over Compact breaches in case funding is cut.

Jess Crocker, compact advocate at the Compact Advocacy Programme, said local and central government had to agree where responsibility lay.

"There needs to be a lot more clarity because we do see a lot of passing the buck between the two," she said.

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