08 February 2010

Third sector: compact more compact

The purpose of the original compact which was published in 1998 was to set out guidelines for how government and third sector organisations should work together.

The compact recognised shared values, principles and commitments and was designed to encourage government and third sector organisations to work together more effectively.

The compact was never designed to be legally binding but instead relies upon trust and mutual goodwill. It amounted to the compact agreement and five separate codes of practice which altogether added up to 160 pages.

Last year it was determined that the Compact required ‘refreshing’ and following a consultation period the new slimmed down compact was launched on 16 December 2009.

The intention of the new version was to bring it up to date with changes in the law, policy and practice which have occurred since 1998, and at the same time making it simpler and easier to use. The result is a 22 page document which is broken down into three sections:

  1. policy development;
  2. resource allocation; and
  3. equality.

The agreement states that:

  1. Any organisation sub-contracting public service delivery contracts to third sector groups should abide by the compact’s principles.
  2. Public bodies should make payments to third sector organisations within 10 days of an invoice being received.
  3. Compact principles should apply to EU funding.
  4. Third sector organisations should be actively involved in policy development.

The Commission for the Compact has also published an ‘Introduction to the Compact’ which is designed to be of use to those organisations and governmental departments which are unfamiliar with the compact.

Sir Bert Massie, the Commissioner for the Compact has said that the emphasis of the revised compact is on government and public bodies explaining and justifying the decisions they make whilst reaffirming the independence of charities.

The Minister for the Third Sector – Angela Smith has indicated that the Government supports the compact and has been quoted as saying that it sets a ‘clear agenda for the future’. However, as it was not so long ago that her own department breached the compact, withdrawing £750,000 of funding promised to 32 third sector organisations under the Campaigning Research Programme.

Both the compact and the introduction can be viewed in full at The Compact.org website.

For more information, please contact Chris Priestley.

Category: Article