Abstracts: April 21st, 2005

This discussion document from the Home Office sets out the relationship between the Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector and it seeks views on proposals for strengthening the Compact on Relations. It also sets out a series of undertakings to which the Government and the voluntary and community sector both agree. These include Government respecting the independence of the sector and consulting early on policies which affect it. In return, the sector undertakes to operate through open and accountable organisations, involve all stakeholders and embrace diversity.The document highlights the role of voluntary and community organisations in helping to build social capital, the invisible glue which gives a sense of community. It also describes their capacity to unleash the power and potential of individual and collective action, either through taking action themselves, or by lobbying others to do so. In turn, this develops skills and experience which can potentially help achieve better social outcomes. They can deliver personalised public services, particularly for those from marginalised and disadvantaged groups.

Despite the existence of Compact, there is evidence of poor practice among both public sector bodies and voluntary and community sector organisations in the area of funding in particular. Principles, such as full cost recovery, have not been applied in practice by Government and the voluntary and community sector has a weak understanding of its real cost base, leading to underbidding when seeking contracts for the delivery of public services.. Once public sector bodies and voluntary and community sector organisations have signed up to the Compact, there is no mechanism to recognise good practice, or highlight behaviour which is not compliant with the Compact.

The discussion document is available at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs4/Compact_61pp_web.pdf