Thurrock: in difficult economic times, Compact delivers sound decisions

Local Compacts are sometimes drawn up by local authorities with the voluntary sector, but then left on the shelf. While developing local Compacts and corresponding implementation groups are both good starting points, what really matters is embedding a Compact way of working.

This means working together effectively from the beginning - and using Compact principles when having to make tough decisions quickly. One local area the Compact helped through such a difficult situation in 2010 is Thurrock.
Managing funding cuts
Around England, with less money available local authorities and councils are having to make spending cuts, and funding for the voluntary sector is one area where they might be made.

Poor practice:
A quick and relatively simple way of doing this might be to make unilateral cuts across the board, for example cutting the budget by 20%. However this bad practice - a blanket cut taken without consultation or proper assessment – doesn’t take into account the effect it would have on local groups and the services they provide for people. It would also make local groups disillusioned with the potential of Compact working, and relations between the sectors would deteriorate.

Good practice:
By contrast, in Thurrock the funder worked with local groups to agree priorities and assess the impact of any potential cuts to the sector and organisations. By consulting with the sector local authorities had much more robust information on the likely effect of cutting funds. This better informed picture of the impact of cuts relating to the effect on and need for services, and subsequently no “blanket” cuts to the sector were made.

The reaction of local groups was also telling; when faced with potential cuts they found themselves in a much stronger position by coming together and giving a united response. Thurrock CVS played a lead role in coordinating the response from voluntary organisations and worked with the funder to get the best outcome for the sector. Importantly, by using Compact Voice’s Good Practice Recording Tool they ensured that this knowledge gets passed on.

The local authority gained evidence of the impact that their funding was having and can see that it’s delivering value for money. Moreover, they paved the way for for joint impact assessments, consultation and continuing to work well together in future.

Thurrock Councillor John Kent said in 2010: “Thurrock Council enjoys a healthy relationship with local groups, and recognises their unique ability to deliver tailored services for the local community. The decision not to make any cuts at this time demonstrates that we are serious about investing in the local voluntary sector.”



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