Revised Compact 'neglects community organisations'

Draft code is a charter for service providers, coalition tells Third Sector minister Angela Smith

The revised version of the Compact that is currently out for consultation is aimed at service-providing third sector organisations and is not relevant to community groups, according to the Community Sector Coalition.

In a letter to third sector minister Angela Smith, coalition director Matthew Scott said the loss of the code concerning community groups in the slimmed-down, 56-page draft meant that "it is not clear where the commitment to that part of the sector and constituency now lies".

The draft contains the statement that most charities are "very small, community-based organisations", but Scott told Third Sector that this brief acknowledgement did not compensate for the loss of the code.

"In effect, what we have is a Compact for third sector subcontractors," he said. "If you look at the bulk of the content, that is surely how it reads. The majority of the sector will draw its own conclusions and figure that it is not for them."

The coalition includes local umbrella organisation Navca, community umbrella group Bassac, conservation charity BTCV and Urban Forum.

In response, the minister said the community sector would not lose anything substantive in the revised format.

The draft Compact is about a third of the size of the original, which includes codes on funding and procurement, volunteering, consultation and policy, community groups and black and minority ethnic groups. It replaces these with sections on involvement in policy development, allocating resources and commissioning, and achieving equality.

Arjumand Kazmi, head of policy at Voice4Change England, an umbrella body for BME third sector groups, said: "We feel that many of the important commitments and distinctiveness in the BME code have been lost."

Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said his organisation accepted the rationale for producing one overall code and was pleased with the result.

Richard Corden, chief executive of the Commission for the Compact, said the consultation was about gaining views from all perspectives and that this was the time for people to say what they thought.

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