Sir Bert Massie challenges charities to commit to the Compact

Big organisations 'should put their weight behind the agreement'

Sir Bert Massie, the Commissioner for the Compact, has challenged charities and voluntary organisations - especially the larger ones -  to sign up to the Compact and start to promote it more actively.

He told a conference on the Compact last week that he found it odd that the sector wanted public authorities to endorse the document but did not do so itself. "After all, it's meant to be a two-sided agreement," he said.

The Compact, currently being "refreshed", is the set of principles governing relations between the public and voluntary sectors, including consultation and funding matters.

"If we want the statutory sector to take the Compact seriously, then so must the third sector," said Massie. "I am told the sector cannot sign up because it comprises thousands of independent organisations and there is no collective body.

"There is truth in that. But it is no reason why organisations should not choose to sign up and  declare that publicly. So here is a challenge: let us encourage the major third sector organisations to commit themselves to conforming to the Compact.

"If they are membership organisations, perhaps they could encourage their members to do the same. We could have a website that lists them. We should also ask those organisations to help promote the Compact."

Massie, appointed as commissioner last year, said it was unlikely that a current Private Member's Bill to make the Compact a statutory agency and give it limited powers would get through Parliament.

But he wanted to press on with measures to strengthen the Compact without legislation, including the
appointment of two more non-executive directors from the public sector to the five-strong board.

He said he also planned to set up an informal group of about 10 members to advise the commission, and a programme of support for Compact Champions - people in public or voluntary organisations with responsibility to promote the agreement.

Massie said he was determined to make the refreshed Compact short and precise,  with separate guidance for particular groups such as the BME community. The draft has been criticised as irrelevant to community groups.

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