Lottery cash for consortium to investigate Compact breaches

Empowering the Voluntary Sector programme will be run by NCVO, Navca and Public Law Project

An advice and advocacy service to help voluntary organisations challenge decisions by public bodies was launched yesterday.

The Empowering the Voluntary Sector programme will deal with issues such as breaches of the Compact, complaints procedures and judicial reviews.

It is a joint initiative between umbrella body the NCVO, local infrastructure group Navca and the Public Law Project.

All three organisations already help charities in their disputes with public bodies, but a £700,000, three-year award by the Big Lottery Fund, made last month, will allow them to work more closely together.

Callers to the hotline - 020 7520 3161 - will be guided to whichever organisation is best placed to help: the NCVO has a Compact advocacy programme, Navca runs public law training courses and the Public Law Project offers legal help to charities that have disagreements with public bodies.

"We have always had good informal partnerships with the Public Law Project and Navca, and this formalises them," said Oliver Reichardt, head of the Compact team at the NCVO.

The NCVO's Compact advocacy programme, which employs two advocates, received £370,000 in lottery funding from 2005 to 2008.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, said: "Through this partnership we will be able to give local organisations even more help."

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