Headlines: October 15th, 1999

Commercial organisations and charities can now apply for a Charter Mark, the Government’s award scheme for recognising and encouraging excellence in public service. Widening eligibility is a response to the rapid growth in partnership working across the public sector. Previously sub-contractors could not apply and neither could voluntary organisations unless 75% of funding came from the public purse. Any public service providing a service direct to the public, which manages its own staff and budget, can apply for a Charter Mark. Winners receive a trophy and certificate and can use the Charter Mark logo on their stationery for three years.The effect of the change will be to bring in organisations providing keysupport functions to many government departments in areas such ashealth, IT, accounting and related services and security. They will include more voluntary hospitals and schools, charities, some hospices, Citizens Advice Bureaux, galleries and museums.

Although the focus of Charter Mark is on the winners, the greatest impact of the scheme comes through the encouragement it gives to all applicants to make a real difference by delivering high quality, responsive services that meet the needs of their user.

A series of 34 regional half day seminars is being held across the country over the next seven months to help organisations interested in applying. The seminars are free of charge and will explain the benefits of going for the award and give advice and guidance on entry.