The Compact (PDF 286KB) is the agreement between the government and the voluntary and community sector (independent voluntary organisations, charities, community groups, etc.) which outlines a way of working that improves their relationship for mutual advantage.
It is also accompanied by an Accountability and Transparency Guide (PDF 208KB), which outlines steps to take at national and local level, including dispute resolution, internal complaints procedures and ombudsmen functions.
What does it offer?
The Compact offers improved funding processes, clear consultation standards, enforceable rights, and an overall improvement in working relationships.
Don't wait until things go wrong before using it. Take it to meetings, use it as a partnership tool and draw on it to improve funding relationships.
A diplomatic approach to challenging bad practice works best. If a government department or statutory body hasn’t followed Compact principles, asking them whether they are being Compact-compliant can make things right.
If you continue to experience difficulties, consult the Accountability and Transparency Guide, contact Compact Voice for advice and check if your local Compact contains dispute resolution steps.
Strengthening your independence
The Compact safeguards the voluntary sector's independence, including its right within the law to campaign and challenge government policy and the right to manage its own affairs without undue interference.
An independent sector is vital for a healthy society but we often need to do more to ensure funding and relationships do not compromise our mission and values.
It's crucial that the sector's voice is heard through fearless but responsible campaigning, and the Compact helps to ensure this remains the case.
Groups should also challenge attempts by funders to appoint themselves to Trustee boards or impose restrictive funding conditions and monitoring procedures.
Fair funding and good consultation
The Compact means fair and effective funding and commissioning processes, and for the sector to be involved in designing services.
Funding should be allocated on a full cost recovery basis, for three or more years, with proportionate monitoring, a fair balance of risk and three months' notice and reasons given when funding ends.
The Compact also sets standards for government to conduct proper consultations which are clearly defined, open and meaningful, and should allow at least twelve weeks for responses and giving feedback.
Almost every local authority in England is signed up to a local Compact, which sets out agreed principles for a relationship that reflects local circumstances and goals.
Whilst many local Compacts can be shown to be delivering tangible benefits for local partners and local people, some local Compacts have suffered from a lack of commitment from one or both partners.
Read more about the impact of local Compacts on partnerships across England.
Commission for the Compact
The Commission for the Compact closed in March 2011, and responsibility for oversight of the Compact is now shared between the Office for Civil Society and Compact Voice.
The Commission was established in April 2007 and closed down at the end of March 2011. During its existence, the Commissioner for the Compact was Sir Bert Massie and the Commission’s chief executive was Richard Corden. The Commission was a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Office of the Third Sector.