At Work: Partnerships - Compact in action - Living Streets and the Department for Transport

John Plummer

The pedestrians' charity improved the Government's funding offer for one of its key projects.

The problem

A cloud hung over the future of the annual Walk to School campaign this year because event organiser Living Streets was involved in a funding dispute with the Department for Transport.

The DfT had provided the charity with money to pay for a national campaign co-ordinator to run the initiative over the past three years. The co-ordinator is responsible for promoting the Walk to School scheme among schools, local authorities and the media, so the post is critical to the initiative's success.

Six months before funding was due to end, the charity asked the department to continue the campaign for another three years, but with a bigger grant to take into account full cost recovery.

The department said it was willing to continue offering its support, but did not give a formal reply until the month before the previous round of funding was due to end. Its reply proposed continuing the current funding level for only one more year.

The action

Living Streets, which runs projects to create safe, vibrant streets, asked the NCVO's Compact Advisory Programme to mediate on its behalf.

The programme arranged a meeting at which it pointed out the Department for Transport was breaching the Compact by refusing to take full cost recovery into account.

It also pointed out that the short-term nature of the contract breached the compact, as did the department's decision to pay the grant in arrears rather than in advance.

The outcome

The department agreed to re-evaluate its offer and came back with a two-year deal at a funding level that was higher, but below what the charity initially requested. It also agreed to pay the money up front rather than in arrears.

"The NCVO helped us to put forward our case that better funding arrangements meant better value for the government in the long run," said Tom Franklin, chief executive of Living Streets. "We didn't get all we wanted, but we did get some of it. I think we'll be more confident in future."

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