Sector bodies accused of 'supine spin' on new Compact

Convenor of National Coalition for Independent Action says new document 'faithfully reflects what the Government wants it to say'

The NCVO has defended itself against allegations that it and other leading voluntary sector representative bodies were guilty of ‘supine spin' when they issued a joint statement in favour of the refreshed Compact.

The leaders of the NCVO, chief executives body Acevo, the Directory of Social Change, local infrastructure group Navca and Volunteering England signed a ‘statement of support' when the Compact, which outlines how the public and voluntary sectors should treat each other, was revised last month.

They described the new, shorter document as a "clear improvement" that would "truly underpin the way in which the two sectors work better together".

But Andy Benson, joint convenor of the National Coalition for Independent Action, which opposes attempts by the Government to co-opt charities to its own agenda, said the revised Compact provided a classic example of what it campaigned against.

The document "faithfully reflects what the Government wants it to say", said Benson.

In a letter to the five leaders, Benson wrote: "We know that there are dissenting views amongst yourselves, amongst your members and elsewhere in the sector.

"So where are these views represented; where is the plain speaking that is needed?

"If you want to be able to say that you ‘represent' the voluntary and community sector, you are going to have to do better than this supine spin."

None of the leaders has replied yet to Benson, but Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, told Third Sector: "The NCVO has always championed the independence of the sector. But that doesn't mean we should not have a relationship with government. Indeed, this is precisely why the Compact is so important.

"I firmly believe that the refreshed Compact is more relevant to the sector. But I also recognise that we must continue to strengthen this agreement and push for legal powers to ensure charities get a fair deal from government and that this is enshrined in law."

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