Overview of the Compact
The Compact (PDF 286KB) is a voluntary agreement that aims to foster strong, effective partnerships between public bodies and voluntary organisations.
Its principles apply to all relationships between voluntary organisations and public bodies that are distributing funds on behalf of the government.
Many local areas in England also have a local Compact. Local Compacts cover partnerships between voluntary organisations and local public bodies (such as councils, police and fire services, health commissioners). They take the principles of the national Compact and reinterpret them to reflect local circumstances.
Every government department is signed up to the principles of the Compact.
The Compact is designed to be beneficial to both sectors, and to establish a framework for good partnership working.
The Compact outlines five principles for both sectors to follow. Within each principle, there are undertakings for both sectors to commit to.
The Compact principles are:
- A strong, diverse and independent civil society
- Effective and transparent design and development of policies, programmes and public services
- Responsive and high-quality programmes and services
- Clear arrangements for managing changes to programmes and services
- An equal and fair society
The Compact 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.
Compact Voice has gathered a number of stories about how this has happened in our case study library.
Some examples include areas that have used their Compact to:
- Develop a framework for measuring social value in commissioning;
- Support innovative examples of early intervention and joining up local services;
- Developed lasting partnerships between voluntary organisations and new commissioning bodies such as Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health and Wellbeing Boards and Police and Crime Commissioners;
- Standardise commissioning practices and better support the involvement of voluntary sector providers.
The Compact also sets standards for government to conduct consultations which are clearly defined, open and meaningful, and should provide feedback on responses.
The Compact highlights important issues such as protecting the independence of the voluntary and community sector, establishing ways to ensure that organisations are involved in the design and delivery of services and policies, and ensuring that funding arrangements are established in the fairest possible way.
Don't wait until things go wrong before looking up your local Compact. Familiarise yourself with your local Compact, or the national Compact (which can cover your local partnerships if you don't have a local Compact in place).
Take your local Compact to meetings, use it as a tool to improve your partnerships, and draw on it to ensure funding relationships continue to be fair and transparent.
Compact Voice is the voice of the voluntary sector on the Compact. Compact Voice is a charity based at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, and works to support voluntary organisations to work in partnership with public bodies.
The Cabinet Office oversees how the Compact is implemented across government departments.
Every government department has a 'Compact lead' who is responsible for overseeing how the Compact is implemented across their department, and for raising awareness of its principles.
Compact Voice and the Cabinet Office have a Joint Action Plan which also includes objectives for the departmental Compact leads to work towards.
The departmental Compact leads, Compact Voice and the Cabinet Office meet on a quarterly basis to discuss key issues facing the sector.