Milburn backs statutory powers for the Compact

Former cabinet minister Alan Milburn has called for a Community Empowerment Act to give statutory force to the Compact and consolidate the sector's role in public service delivery.

Milburn said the new law should give voluntary organisations the right to bid for any tendered public service, make three years the normal length of contracts and enshrine the right of the sector to campaign.

Speaking at Acevo's Chief Executives Summit on 12 June, Milburn – who was health secretary in Tony Blair's government – said these changes would give substance to good intentions and put public service delivery and community regeneration on a sure footing.

The Government and the Commission for the Compact are currently reviewing how the Compact works and whether it should be given statutory powers. Chief executives body Acevo is in favour (Third Sector Online, 20 May), some sector leaders are not and umbrella body the NCVO thinks it is bound to happen (Third Sector, 26 March).

Milburn told the conference that politics was changing from top-down paternalism to community empowerment. "This is new political territory that neither the right nor the left has come to terms with," he said. "Whoever does, will win."

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