Sector leaders urge Eric Pickles to back the Compact

Compact Voice asks the communities secretary to reassure local authorities about his commitment to the public and voluntary sector partnership agreement

Eric Pickles
Eric Pickles

Some of the voluntary sector’s most prominent leaders have urged Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to commit publicly to the Compact and to building it into his department’s policies.

The letter was written by Compact Voice and is signed by Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of third sector leaders’ group Acevo and Kevin Curley, chief executive of the local infrastructure support group Navca, and others.

Their organisations all sit on the board of Compact Voice, which represents the third sector on the Compact, the public and voluntary sector partnership agreement.

Pickles threatened in February to take action against councils that made "disproportionate cuts" to their voluntary sector budgets.

But more than half of local authorities that responded to Freedom of Information requests submitted by Compact Voice said they had cut their voluntary sector budgets by a higher percentage than cuts to their overall budgets.

"We are concerned at the considerable difference between the expectations you announced and the reality of what is occurring locally," the letter says.

As well as urging Pickles to make a public statement confirming his support for the Compact, the letter asks him to "write to local authority chief executives and decision makers emphasising your support for both the national and local Compacts".

A recent survey by Compact Voice of its members discovered widespread support for stronger leadership by national and local government on the Compact.

A Compact Voice spokeswoman said: "We hope to achieve better leadership on the Compact from DCLG. It is an important department that could do more to ensure the full potential of the Compact is realised."

A spokesman for DCLG said: "Councils have challenging decisions to make around how they prioritise spending but the government is clear that councils must resist any temptation to pass on disproportionate savings to the voluntary sector.

"In their approach to budget setting, the best councils are showing that they understand that a strong, thriving voluntary sector is more important now than ever and could be the key to providing high quality, good value services to their residents. But this is not the case everywhere. Councils that are failing to recognise the importance of the sector are being short-sighted in their approach."

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