The Pathfinders scheme, announced in Gordon Brown's pre-Budget report last week, will use the best-performing councils as role models to improve Compact compliance across England.
The scheme is open to every council in the country and will also commit members to involving voluntary bodies more in the provision of public services. But it will not apply to social care services by the voluntary sector.
Economic secretary to the Treasury Ivan Lewis told Third Sector: "This is a real attempt to say that we know there is scepticism about whether the Compact and Compact Plus have been implemented in their entirety in many communities. What we are trying to do with Pathfinders is to get local authorities to volunteer to put these principles into practice.
"We've made tremendous progress in the relationship between statutory and voluntary agencies, but we haven't yet done well enough or gone far enough. We want to close the gap between reality and rhetoric."
Kevin Curley, chief executive of the National Association of Councils for Voluntary Service, said it was a "valuable scheme that will give us some beacons of good practice. But the fact remains that some of the most difficult areas are where the local authority is most unlikely to volunteer.
"We do need both carrots and sticks. We are not going to crack some of the most backward local authorities with carrots of this sort alone."
- See Newsmaker Extra, page 29.