Slimmed-down Compact is published

Document is slashed from 160 pages to 22, and covers policy development, resource allocation and equality

A radically slimmed-down version of the Compact has been published today.

The new version of the agreement, which sets out how public and third sector organisations should treat each other, is 22 pages long, compared with more than 160 in the old version and its five codes of practice.

The old codes of practice have been removed and the document has been broken down into three areas covering policy development, resource allocation and equality.

The new agreement says:

  • Any organisation subcontracting public service delivery contracts to third sector groups should abide by the Compact's principles.
  • Public bodies should make payments to third sector organisations within 10 days of an invoice being received.
  • Compact principles should apply to the distribution of EU funding.
  • Third sector organisations should be actively involved in policy development rather than just consultation exercises.

The new section on "advancing equality", which has commitments to fair and equal access to funding, has been added because Voice4Change England raised concerns during the consultation process that losing the BME code would have a negative effect on third sector organisations working with minority groups.

The Commission for the Compact has also published a short guide, An Introduction to the Compact, aimed at people who are unfamiliar with the agreement.

Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact, said the refresh process had been challenging.

"This Compact places a greater emphasis on government and public bodies explaining and justifying the decisions they make," he said. "It reaffirms the independence of third sector organisations and their right to campaign and comment on government policy."

Angela Smith, Minister for the Third Sector, said the refreshed Compact set out a clear agenda for future partnership.

"More than ever, a strong relationship based on trust between the third and public sectors is crucial for supporting communities and delivering strong public services," she said.

Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on the third sector, said "concrete action" from the Government was needed to implement the Compact.

Willott said Smith's recent breach of the Compact, when her department withdrew £750,000 of funding already promised to 32 third sector organisations under the Campaigning Research Programme, had shaken the sector's confidence in the Government's commitment to the Compact.

"The Office of the Third Sector must be a shining example to other public bodies over how to implement the Compact," she said. "This means making a gold-plated pledge never breach it ever again."

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